American Abolitionists and Antislavery Activists:
Conscience of the Nation

Updated April 4, 2021

l to r: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips

Encyclopedia of Slavery and Abolition in the United States - B

BACON, Leonard, Reverend, 1802-1881, Detroit, Michigan, clergyman, newspaper editor, author, opponent of slavery.  Supporter of the American Colonization Society in New England.  Editor of the Christian Spectator, 1826-1838.  In 1843, helped establish The New Englander, where he wrote many anti-slavery articles. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 129-130; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 77-79, 119-120, 126, 127, 130-131, 134, 161, 204, 205, 231)

BACON, Leonard, clergyman, b. in Detroit, Mich., 19 Feb., 1802; d. in New Haven, Conn., 24 Dec., 1881. He was graduated at Yale in 1820, and studied theology at Andover. In March, 1825, he was ordained pastor of the 1st church in New Haven, and continued in this office until his death—fifty-seven years. From 1866, being relieved of the main burden of pastoral work, he occupied the chair of didactic theology in Yale until 1871, and thereafter was lecturer on ecclesiastical polity and American church history. He was a representative of the liberal orthodoxy and historic polity of the ancient New England churches. His life was incessantly occupied in the discussion of questions bearing on the interests of humanity and religion. Probably no subject of serious importance that came into general notice during his long career escaped his earnest and active attention. A public question which absorbed much of his thought after 1823 was that of slavery. His constant position was that of resistance to slavery on the one hand, and of resistance to the extravagances of certain abolitionists on the other; and he thought himself well rewarded for forty years of debate, in which, as he was wont to say of himself, quoting the language of Baxter, that, “where others had had one enemy he had had two,” when he learned that Abraham Lincoln referred to his volume on slavery as the source of his own clear and sober convictions on that subject. He was a strong supporter of the union throughout the civil war, and took active part in the various constitutional, economical, and moral discussions to which it gave rise. He was influential in securing the repeal of the “omnibus clause” in the Connecticut divorce law. In March, 1874, he was moderator of the council that rebuked Henry Ward Beecher's society for irregularly expelling Theodore Tilton, and in February, 1876, of the advisory council called by the Plymouth society. During his later years he was, by general consent, regarded as the foremost man among American Congregationalists. He became known in oral debate, in which he excelled, by his books, and preeminently by his contributions to the periodical press. From 1826 till 1838 he was one of the editors of the “Christian Spectator.” In 1843 he aided in establishing “The New Englander” review, to which he continued to contribute copiously until his death. In that publication appeared many articles from his pen denouncing, on religious and political grounds, the policy of the government in respect to slavery. With Drs. Storrs and Thompson he founded the “Independent” in 1847, and continued with them in the editorship of it for sixteen years. He had great delight in historical studies, especially in the history of the Puritans, both in England and in America. Besides innumerable pamphlets and reviews, He published “Select Works of Richard Baxter,” with a biography (1830); “Manual for Young Church-Members” (1833); “Thirteen Historical Discourses” on the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the 1st church in New Haven (1839); “Views and Reviews; an Appeal against. Division” (1840); “Slavery Discussed in Occasional Essays” (1846); “Christian Self-Culture” (1862); “Four Commemorative Discourses” (1866); “Genesis of the New England Churches” (1874); “Sketch of Rev. David Bacon” (1876); and “Three Civic Orations for New Haven” (1879). Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


BACON, Samuel, 1782-1820, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, lawyer, clergyman, soldier, editor.  Agent for the American Colonization society.  He later became an employee of the U.S. government. 

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 132; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 56-63 passim)

BACON, Samuel, clergyman, b. in Sturbridge, Mass., 22 July, 1781; d. in Kent, Cape Shilling, Africa, 3 May, 1820. He was graduated at Harvard in 1808, and then studied law, which he subsequently practised in Pennsylvania. For a time he edited the “Worcester Ægis,” and later the Lancaster, Pa., “Hive,” and then was ordained in the Protestant Episcopal ministry. In 1819 he was appointed by the U. S. government one of three agents to colonize Africa with negroes, under the auspices of the American colonization society. The expedition sailed for Sierra Leone, reaching that port on 9 March, 1820, and a settlement was made at Campelar, on the Sherboro river. Here his two associates died, and he in declining health was removed to Kent, where his last days were spent. See “Memoirs of Rev. Samuel Bacon,” by Jehudi Ashmun (1822).  Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


BAILEY, Gamaliel, 1807-1859, Maryland, abolitionist leader, journalist, newspaper publisher and editor.  Publisher and editor of National Era (founded 1847), of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.  Co-founded Cincinnati Anti-Slavery Society in 1835.  Corresponding Secretary, Ohio Anti-Slavery Society. Assistant and Co-Editor, The Abolitionist newspaper.  Liberty Party.  Published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1851-1852.

(Blue, 2005, pp. 21, 25-26, 28, 30, 34, 52, 55, 67, 148-149, 166, 192, 202, 223, 248; Dumond, 1961, pp. 163, 223, 264, 301; Filler, 1960, pp. 78, 150, 194-195, 245, 252; Harrold, 1995; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 4, 5, 14, 23, 24, 26, 27, 44, 46, 54, 61, 63, 69, 88-89, 91, 103, 106; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 50, 185; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 136; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 1, pp. 496-497; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 1, p. 881)

BAILEY, Gamaliel, journalist, b. in Mount Holly, N. J., 3 Dec., 1807; d. at sea, 5 June, 1859. He studied medicine in Philadelphia, and after obtaining his degree in 1828 sailed as a ship's doctor to China. He began his editorial career in the office of the “Methodist Protestant” in Baltimore, but in 1831 he removed to Cincinnati, where he served as hospital physician during the cholera epidemic. His sympathies being excited on the occasion of the expulsion of a number of students on account of anti-slavery views from Lane seminary, he became an active agitator against slavery, and in 1836 he associated himself with James G. Birney in the conduct of the “Cincinnati Philanthropist,” the earliest anti-slavery newspaper in the west, of which in 1837 he became sole editor. Twice in that year, and again in 1841, the printing-office was sacked by a mob. He issued the paper regularly until after the presidential election of 1844, when he was selected to direct the publication of a new abolitionist organ at Washington. The first number of the “National Era,” published under the auspices of the American and foreign anti-slavery society, appeared 1 Jan., 1847. In 1848 an angry mob laid siege to the office for three days, and finally separated under the influence of an eloquent harangue by the editor. The “Era,” in which “Uncle Tom's Cabin” originally appeared, ably presented the opinions of the anti-slavery party. Dr. Bailey died while on a voyage to Europe for his health.   Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 136.


BALDWIN, John Denison, 1809-1883, journalist, clergyman, Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives 1863-1867, voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.  Editor of the anti-slavery journal, Republican in Hartford, Connecticut.  Owner, editor of Free-Soil Charter Oak at Hartford, Connecticut.  In 1852 became editor of the Commonwealth in Boston.  Supported negro causes.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 148-149; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 1, p. 537; Congressional Globe)

BALDWIN, John Denison, journalist, b. in North Stonington, Conn., 28 Sept., 1809; d. in Worcester, Mass., 8 July, 1883. He supported himself from the age of fourteen, pursued academical, legal, and theological studies in New Haven, and received the honorary degree of master of arts from Yale college. He was licensed to preach in 1833, was pastor of a church in North Branford, Conn., for several years, and made a special study of archaeology. He became editor of the “Republican,” an anti-slavery journal, published in Hartford, and subsequently of the “Commonwealth,” published in Boston. From 1859 he owned and edited the “Worcester Spy.” He was elected to congress in 1863, and reelected twice. He published “Raymond Hill,” a collection of poems (Boston, 184 7); “Prehistoric Nations” (New York, 1869, and “Ancient America” (1872). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 148-149.


BALDWIN, John, Pennsylvania, abolitionist leader, president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS), founded 1775, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(Basker, 2005, p. 80)


BALDWIN, Roger Sherman, 1793-1863, New Haven, Connecticut, lawyer, jurist, statesman, U.S. Senator.  Lead counsel, with John Quincy Adams, for the slaves of the Amistad ship. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 149-150; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 1, p. 542)

BALDWIN, Roger Sherman, jurist, b. in New Haven, Conn., 4 Jan., 1793; d. there, 19 Feb., 1863. He affords an admirable instance of all that is best in the intellectual and moral life of New England. By descent and education he was of genuine Puritan stock. His father, Simeon Baldwin, was descended from one of the original New Haven colonists, and his mother was the daughter of Roger Sherman, a signer of the declaration of independence, both families being from the earliest times identified with the cause of civil and religious liberty. Roger Sherman Baldwin entered Yale at the age of fourteen, and was graduated with high honors in 1811. Beginning his legal studies in his father's office, he finished them in the then famous law school of Judges Reeve and Gould, at Litchfield, Conn. By the time that he was ready for admission to the bar, In 1814, he had developed a mastery of the principles of law that was considered very remarkable in so young a man. His habits of concentration, his command of pure and elegant English, the precision and definiteness of his methods, soon brought him into prominence in his profession, and at a comparatively early age he attained distinction at the bar. His preference was for cases involving the great principles of jurisprudence rather than those that depended upon appeals to the feelings of jurymen. Nevertheless, he commanded rare success as a jury lawyer, being gifted with a certain dignified and lofty eloquence that carried conviction and sustained the current belief that he would not undertake the defence of a cause of whose justice he was not personally convinced. One of the most famous cases in which he was engaged was that of the “Amistad captives” (1839), now well-nigh forgotten, but which assumed international importance at the time. A shipload of slaves, bound to Cuba, had gained possession of the vessel. They were encountered adrift on the high seas by an American vessel and brought into New York, where they were cared for. The Spanish authorities, claimed them as the property of Spanish subjects, and the anti-slavery party at the north, then becoming a formidable element in national politics, interested itself in their behalf. The case was first tried in a Connecticut district court, decided against the Spanish claim, and carried to the supreme court of the United States. The venerable John Quincy Adams and Mr. Baldwin were associated as counsel, the latter practically conducting the case. His plea on this occasion showed such a grasp of the legal technicalities involved, that such men as Chancellor Kent rated him with the leading jurists of the time. After serving his own state in assembly and senate (1837-'41), he was elected governor in 1844, and reëlected for the following term. In 1847 he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Jabez W. Huntington as U. S. senator. He at once took a leading place among the statesmen of the period, was reëlected for a second term, and always advocated the cause of equal rights for all during the heated controversies preceding the outbreak of the civil war. In 1860 he was one of the two electors “at large” for the choice of Mr. Lincoln, and in 1860 was appointed by Gov. Buckingham a member of the “peace congress” of 1861, consisting of five delegates from each state, who, it was hoped, would devise a basis of amicable settlement of the differences between north and south. In his opening address, John Tyler, of Virginia, president of the congress, said: “Connecticut is here, and she comes, I doubt not, in the spirit of Roger Sherman, whose name, with our very children, has become a household word, and who was in life the embodiment of that sound, practical sense which befits the great law-giver and constructor of governments.” The labors of the congress came to naught, owing mainly to the precipitancy with which some of the southern states passed ordinances of secession. This was the last public service undertaken by Mr. Baldwin other than the personal assistance which every patriotic citizen lent to his country during the early years of civil war. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


BALDWIN, Simeon, Judge, 1761-1851, New Haven, Connecticut, lawyer, jurist.  Member of the American Colonization Society committee in New Haven.  Secretary of the Connecticut Society for the Promotion and Freedom and for the Relief of Persons Holden in Bondage. 

(Dumond, 1961, p. 47; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 149; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 86)


BALL, Charles, b. 1780, escaped slave, wrote Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, 1837, a pre-Civil War slave narrative.

(Mason, 2006, p. 169; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 185-186, 428, 574-575)


BALL, Lucy, Boston, Massachusetts, leader, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS).

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 199; Yellin, 1994, pp. 45, 56-57, 56n, 57n, 60-61, 63-64n, 263, 280)


BALL, Martha Violet, leader, Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 199; Yellin, 1994, pp. 45, 56-57n, 60-61, 63-64n, 263, 280)


BALLOU, Adin, 1803-1890, Universalist and Unitarian, clergyman, reformer, temperance proponent, advocate of pacifism, writer, founder of Hopedale Community, opposed slavery.  President of the New England Non-Resistance Society.  Supporter of abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison.  Anti-slavery lecturer in Pennsylvania and New York, 1846-1848.  Vice President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1838-1840, 1840-1860. 

(Ballou, 1854; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 1, pp. 556-557; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 48-50; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 83)


BAQUAQUA, Mahommah Gardo, b. c. 1824, African American abolitionist. Wrote slave narrative, An Interesting Narrative: Biography of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua in 1854. 

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 1, p. 355)


BARBADOES, James G., 1796-1841, Boston, Massachusetts.  African American abolitionist, community activist.  Helped organize the Massachusetts General Colored Association (MGCA). Manager and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833. 

(Newman, 2002, pp. 100-102, 105, 114, 115, 126; Rodriguez, 2007, p. 161; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 127; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 1, p. 362)


BARKER, Joseph, 1806-1875, English clergyman, author, controversialist, lecturer, abolitionist.  Supporter of abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison.  Vice President of the Anti-Slavery Party, 1852-1859.  Moved permanently to the United States in 1857.  Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, opposed slavery in the House. 

(Larsen, 2006; Locke, 1901, pp. 93, 150; Annals of Congress; Dictionary of National Biography, London, 1885-1900)




BARROW, David, 1753-1819, Baptist clergyman, abolitionist, founded Portsmouth-Norfolk Church in 1795.  Had Black pastor assistant.  Had mixed race congregation.  President of the Kentucky Abolition Society.  Wrote: “Involuntary, Unlimited, Perpetual, Absolute, Hereditary Slavery Examined on the Principles of Nature, Reason, Justice, Policy, Scripture,” (1807), published Abolition Intelligencer and Missionary Magazine

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 90, 95, 133-134; Goodell, 1852; Locke, 1901, pp. 44, 90; Mason, 2006, pp. 171, 176)


BASCOM, Henry Bidleman, Bishop, 1796-1850, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, clergyman. Methodist pastor educator, former President of Madison College in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  Successful Agent for the American Colonization Society in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Wrote Methodism and Slavery, 1847.  Chaplain of Congress.  President of Madison College, Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  Agent, Colonization Society, 1829-1831. 

(Henkle, Life of Bascom, 1856; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 189-190; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 30-32; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 136, 141-142, 146)

BASCOM, Henry Bidleman, M. E. bishop, b. in Hancock, Delaware co., N. Y., 27 May, 1796; d. in Louisville, Ky., 8 Sept., 1850. He was descended from a Huguenot family. He had but little education, but before the age of eighteen he was licensed to preach, and admitted to the Ohio conference, where he did hard work on the frontier, preaching in one year 400 times, and receiving a salary of $12.10. His style being too florid to suit the taste of those to whom he preached, he was transferred, in 1816, to Tennessee; but, after filling appointments there and in Kentucky, he returned to Ohio in 1822, and in 1823 Henry Clay obtained for him the appointment of chaplain to congress. At the close of the session of that body he visited Baltimore, where his fervid oratory made a great sensation. He was first president of Madison college, Uniontown, Pa., in 1827-'8, and from 1829 till 1831 was agent of the colonization society. From that time until 1841 he was professor of moral science and belles-lettres at Augusta college, Ky. He became president of Transylvania university, Kentucky, in 1842, having previously declined the presidency of two other colleges. Dr. Bascom was a member of the general conference of 1844, which suspended Bishop Andrew because he refused to manumit his slaves; and the protest of the southern members against the action of the majority was drawn up by him. In 1845 he was a member of the Louisville convention, which organized the Methodist Church South, and was the author of its report; and he was chairman of the commission appointed to settle the differences between the two branches of the church. In 1846 he became editor of the “Southern Methodist Quarterly Review,” and in 1849 he was chosen bishop, being ordained in May, 1850, only a few months before his death. Dr. Bascom was a powerful speaker, but was fond of strong epithets and rather extravagant metaphors. He was the author of “Sermons from the Pulpit,” “Lectures on Infidelity,” “Lectures on Moral and Mental Science,” and “Methodism and Slavery.” A posthumous edition of his works was edited by Rev. T. N. Ralston (Nashville, Tenn., 1850 and 1856). See “Life of Bishop Bascom,” by Rev. Dr. M. M. Henkle (Nashville, 1854). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 189-190.


BASSET, William, Lynn, Massachusetts, Society of Friends, Quaker, radical abolitionist, president Requited Labor Convention.  Member and manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839-1840, 1843-1853; Vice President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1841, 1842-1846. 

(Drake, 1950, pp. 157, 160, 178n, 159; Mabee, 1970, pp. 73, 120, 121, 209, 210)


BATES, Edward, 1793-1869, Virginia, statesman, lawyer, Society of Friends, Quaker.  Congressman.  U.S. Attorney General, Lincoln’s cabinet.  Member, Free Labor Party, Missouri.  Anti-slavery activist. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 193; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 48-49)

BATES, Edward, statesman, b. in Belmont. Goochland co., Va., 4 Sept., 1793; d. in St. Louis, Mo., 25 March, 1869. He was of Quaker descent, and received most of his education at Charlotte Hall, Maryland, finishing under the care of a private tutor. In 1812 he received a midshipman's warrant, and was only prevented from going to sea by his mother's influence. From February till October, 1813, he served in the Virginia militia at Norfolk. His elder brother, Frederick Bates, having been appointed secretary of the new territory of Missouri, Edward emigrated thither in 1814, and soon entered upon the practice of law. As early as 1816 he was appointed prosecuting attorney for the St. Louis circuit, and in 1820 was elected a delegate to the state constitutional convention. Toward the close of the same year he was appointed attorney-general of the new state of Missouri, which office he held for two years. He was elected to the legislature in 1822, and in 1824 became state attorney for the Missouri district. About this time he became the political friend of Henry Clay. In 1826, while yet quite a young man, he was elected a representative in congress as an anti-democrat, serving but one term. For the next twenty-five years he devoted himself to his profession, but served in the legislature again in 1830 and 1834. In 1847 Mr. Bates was a delegate to the convention for internal improvement, held in Chicago, and here made a favorable impression upon the country at large. In 1850 President Fillmore offered him the portfolio of secretary of war, which he declined. Three years later he accepted the office of judge of the St. Louis land court. In 1836 he presided over the whig convention held in Baltimore. When the question of the repeal of the Missouri compromise was agitated, he earnestly opposed it, and thus became identified with the “free-labor” party in Missouri, opposing with them the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution. Mr. Bates became more and more prominent as an anti-slavery man, until in 1859 he was mentioned as a candidate for the presidency. He was warmly supported by his own state, and for a time it seem that the opposition to Gov. Seward might concentrate upon him. In the National republican convention of 1860 he received 48 votes on the 1st ballot; but when it became apparent that Mr. Lincoln was the favorite, his name was withdrawn. When Mr. Lincoln, after his election, decided upon selecting for his cabinet the leading men of the republican party, including those who had been his principal competitors, Mr. Bates was appointed attorney-general. In the cabinet he played a dignified, safe, and faithful, but not conspicuous, part. In 1864 he resigned his office and returned to his home in St. Louis. From this time he never again entered into active politics. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 193.


BAUMFREE, Isabella, see Truth, Sojourner


BAYARD, Samuel, 1767-1840, Princeton, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, jurist, Member of the New Jersey state legislature.  Vice-President, American Colonization Society, 1833-1841.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 199; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 69-70; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961)

BAYARD, Samuel, jurist, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., 11 Jan., 1767; d. in Princeton, N. J., 12 May, 1840. He was the fourth son of Col. John Bayard, and was graduated at Princeton in 1784, delivering the valedictory oration. He studied law with William Bradford, whose law-partner he became, and practised for seven years in Philadelphia. In 1791 he was appointed clerk of the U. S. supreme court. After the ratification of Jay's treaty with Great Britain, signed 19 Nov., 1794, he was appointed by Washington agent of the United States to prosecute American claims before the British admiralty courts, and in that capacity he lived in London four years. After his return he resided several years at New Rochelle, N. Y., and while there was appointed by Gov. Jay presiding judge of Westchester co. In 1803 he removed to New York city, and resumed the practice of law. He was one of the founders of the New York historical society, organized in 1804. In 1806 he purchased an estate at Princeton, N. J. For several years he was a member of the New Jersey legislature, and for a long period presiding judge of the court of common pleas of Somerset co. He was interested in religious enterprises, was one of the founders of Princeton theological seminary, and joined with Elias Boudinot in establishing the American Bible society and the New Jersey Bible society. In 1814 he was nominated by the federalists for congress, but was defeated. He published a funeral oration on Gen. Washington (New Brunswick, 1800); “A Digest of American Cases on the Law of Evidence, intended as Notes to Peake's Compendium” (Philadelphia, 1810); “An Abstract of the Laws of the United States which relate to the Duties and Authority of Judges of Inferior State Courts and Justices of the Peace” (New York, 1834); and “Letters on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper” (Philadelphia, 1825; 2d ed., 1840). See “Samuel Bayard and his London Diary, 1791-'4,” by Gen. Jas. Grant Wilson (Newark, 1885). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 199.


BEECHER, Edward, 1803-1895, clergyman, abolitionist leader, writer, social reformer.  President, Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois.  Pastor, Salem Street Church, Boston.  Executive committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.  Friend of abolitionist leader Elijah J. Lovejoy.  Co-founded Anti-Slavery Society in Illinois.  Executive Committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1842.  Son of abolitionist Lyman Beecher, brother of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Charles Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 153-154, 288; Merideth, 1968; Pease, 1965, pp. 268-272; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 40, 187-188; Rugoff, 1981; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 219-220; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 128)

BEECHER, Edward, clergyman, b. in East Hampton, L. I., 27 Aug., 1803. He was graduated at Yale in 1822, studied theology at Andover and New Haven, became tutor in Yale in 1825, and then removed to Boston to take charge of the Park street congregation. Here he remained from 1826 till 1830, when he was elected president of Illinois College, Jacksonville. In 1844 he returned to Boston, as pastor of Salem street church, and in 1855 he became pastor of the Congregational church at Galesburg, Ill., where he remained until1870. For some years he was professor of exegesis in the Chicago Theological Seminary. In 1872 he retired from the ministry and removed to Brooklyn, N. Y. The title of D. D. was conferred on him by Marietta College in 1841. He has been a constant contributor to periodicals, was senior editor of “The Congregationalist” for the first six years of its existence, and after 1870 was a regular contributor to the “Christian Union.” His two works on the “Ages” gave rise to much discussion, and have modified doctrinal statements as to the origin of human depravity. The central idea presented is, that man's present life upon earth is the outgrowth of a former life as well as the prelude to a future one; that during the ages a conflict has been going on between good and evil, which will not be terminated in this life, but that sooner or later all the long strifes of ages will become harmonized into an everlasting concord. He has published “Address on the Kingdom of God” (Boston, 1827); '”Six Sermons on the Nature, Importance, and Means of Eminent Holiness throughout the Church” (New York, 1835); “History of Alton Riots” (Cincinnati, 1837); “Statement of Anti-Slavery Principles and Address to People of Illinois” (1837); “Baptism, its Import and Modes” (New York, 1850); “Conflict of Ages” (Boston, 1853); “Papal Conspiracy exposed” (New York, 1855); “Concord of Ages” (1860); “History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Future Retribution” (1878).—Another son, George, clergyman, b. in East Hampton, L. I., 6 May, 1809; d. in Chillicothe, Ohio, 1 July, 1843, was graduated at Yale in 1828, after which he studied theology. Subsequent to his ordination in the Presbyterian church he filled pulpits at Rochester, N. Y., and afterward at Chillicothe, Ohio. His death was caused by an accidental discharge of a gun while shooting birds in his own garden. See the “Memoirs of George Beecher,” by his sister Catherine (New York, 1844). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 219-220.   


BEECHER, Reverend Henry Ward, 1813-1887, social reformer, clergyman, abolitionist leader.  Supported women’s suffrage and temperance movements.  Opposed compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act.  Supported early Republican Party and its candidate for President, John C. Fremont.  Son of abolitionist Lyman Beecher, brother of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher. 

(Applegate, 2006; Filler, 1960, pp. 155, 196, 241; Hibben, 1942; Mabee, 1970, pp. 140, 240, 241, 298, 300, 318, 320, 337, 365; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 380, 656-657; Rugoff, 1981; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 218-219; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 128-135; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 64-66)

BEECHER, Henry Ward, clergyman, b. in Litchfield, Conn., 24 June, 1813; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 8 March, 1887. At an early age he had a strong desire for a seafaring life, which he renounced in consequence of a deep religious impression experienced during a revival. He studied at the Boston Latin-school, in Mount Pleasant institute, was graduated at Amherst in 1834, and then studied theology at Lane seminary, under the tuition of his father, who was president of the institution. He first settled as a Presbyterian minister in Lawrenceburgh, Indiana, in 1837, and married Eunice White, daughter of Dr. Artemas Bullard; then removed to Indianapolis in 1839, where he preached until 1847. In that year he received a call from Plymouth church, a new Congregational society in Brooklyn, N. Y., and almost from the outset he began to acquire that reputation as a pulpit orator which he maintained for more than a third of a century. The church and congregation under his charge were among the largest in America. The edifice has a seating capacity of nearly 3,000. Mr. Beecher discarded many of the conventionalities of the clerical profession. In his view, humor had a place in a sermon, as well as argument and exhortation, and he did not hesitate sometimes to venture so near the comic that laughter was hardly to be restrained. He was fond of illustration, drawing his material from every sphere of human life and thought, and his manner was highly dramatic. Though his keen sense of humor continually manifested itself, the prevailing impression given by his discourses was one of intense earnestness. The cardinal idea of his creed was that Christianity is not a series of dogmas, philosophical or metaphysical, but a rule of life in every phase. He never hesitated to discuss from the pulpit the great social and political crimes of the day, such as slavery, intemperance, avarice, and political abuses. In 1878 he announced that he did not believe in the eternity of punishment. He now held that all punishment is cautionary and remedial, and that no greater cruelty could be imagined than the continuance of suffering eternally, after all hope of reformation was gone; and in 1882 he and his congregation formally withdrew from the association of Congregational churches, since their theology had gradually changed from the strictest Calvinism to a complete disbelief in the eternity of future punishment. His sermons, reported by stenographers, for several years formed a weekly publication called the “Plymouth Pulpit.” He early became prominent as a platform orator and lecturer, and as such had a long and successful career. His lectures came to be in such demand, even at the rate of $500 a night, that he was obliged to decline further engagements, as they interfered with his ministerial duties, and for a long time he refused all applications for public addresses except for some special occasion. In January, 1859, he delivered an oration at the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the birthday of Robert Burns, which is considered one of his most eloquent efforts. He became a member of the Republican party on its formation, and delivered many political sermons from his pulpit, also addressing political meetings, especially in 1856, when he took an active part in the canvass, not only with his pen but by speaking at meetings thoughout the northern states. During the presidential canvass of 1884, Mr. Beecher supported the Democratic candidate, and by his action estranged many of his political admirers. In the long conflict with slavery he was an early and an earnest worker. In 1863 he visited Europe, and addressed large audiences in the principal cities of Great Britain on the questions involved in the civil war then raging in the United States, with a special view to disabuse the British public in regard to the issues of the great struggle. His speeches exerted a wide influence in changing popular sentiment, which previously had been strongly in favor of the southern Confederacy, and were published in London as “Speeches on the American Rebellion” (1864). In April, 1865, at the request of the government, he delivered an oration at Fort Sumter on the anniversary of its fall. In 1878 he was elected chaplain of the 13th regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., and appeared on parade in the customary uniform. In 1871 one of his parishioners, Henry W. Sage, founded a lectureship of preaching, called “The Lyman Beecher Lectureship,” in Yale college divinity school, and the first three annual courses were delivered by Mr. Beecher. In the summer of 1874, Theodore Tilton, formerly Mr. Beecher's associate, afterward his successor, in the editorship of the “Independent,” charged him with criminality with Mrs. Tilton. A committee of Plymouth congregation reported the charges to be without foundation; but meanwhile Mr. Tilton instituted a civil suit against Mr. Beecher, laying his damages at $100,000. The trial lasted six months, and at its close the jury, after being locked up for more than a week, failed to agree on a verdict. They stood three for the plaintiff and nine for the defendant. Mr. Beecher was of stout build, florid, and of strong physical constitution. He was fond of domestic and rural life; a student of nature; a lover of animals, flowers, and gems; an enthusiast in music, and a judge and patron of art. He owned a handsome residence at Peekskill on the Hudson, which he occupied during a part of every summer. In 1886 he made a lecturing tour in England, his first visit to that country after the war. During his theological course in 1836, for nearly a year Mr. Beecher edited the “Cincinnati Journal,” a religious weekly. While pastor at Indianapolis he edited an agricultural journal, “The Farmer and Gardener,” his contributions to which were afterward published under the title “Plain and Pleasant Talk about Fruits, Flowers, and Farming” (New York, 1859). He was one of the founders and for nearly twenty years an editorial contributor of the New York “Independent,” and from 1861 till 1863 was its editor. His contributions to this were signed with an asterisk, and many of them were afterward collected and published as “Star Papers; or, Experiences of Art and Nature” (New York, 1855), and as “New Star Papers; or, Views and Experiences of Religious Subject” (1858). The latter has been republished in England under the title of '”Summer in the Soul.” On the establishment of the “Christian Union” in 1870, he became its editor-in- chief. To a series of papers in the '”New York Ledger” he gave the title “Thoughts as they Occur,” by “One who keeps his eyes and ears open,” and they were afterward published under the title of “Eyes and Ears” (Boston, 1864). In addition to the foregoing, Mr. Beecher published “Lectures to Young Men on Various Important Subjects” (Indianapolis, 1844, revised ed., New York, 1850); “Freedom and War: Discourses suggested by the Times” (Boston, 1863); “Aids to Prayer” (New York, 1864); “Norwood; or, Village Life in New England” (1867); “Overture of Angels” (1869), being an introductory installment of “Life of Jesus the Christ; Earlier Scenes” (1871); “Lecture-Room Talks: A Series of Familiar Discourses on Themes of Christian Experience” (1870); “Yale Lectures on Preaching” (3 vols., 1872-'4); “A Summer Parish: Sermons and Morning Services of Prayer” (1874); “Evolution and Religion” (1885). Also, numerous addresses and separate sermons, such as “Army of the Republic” (1878); “The Strike and its Lessons” (1878); “Doctrinal Beliefs and Unbeliefs” (1882); “Commemorative Discourse on Wendell Phillips” (1884); “A Circuit of the Continent,” being an account of his trip through the west and south (1884); and “Letter to the Soldiers and Sailors” (1866, reprinted with introduction, 1884). He edited “Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes” (New York, 1855), and “Revival Hymns” (Boston, 1858). Numerous compilations of his utterances have been prepared, among which are: “Life Thoughts” (New York, 1859), by Edna Dean Proctor; “Notes from Plymouth Pulpit” (1859), by Augusta Moore; both of the foregoing have been reprinted in England; “Pulpit Pungencies” (1866); “Royal Truths” (Boston, 1866), reprinted from a series of extracts prepared in England without his knowledge; “Prayers from Plymouth Pulpit” (New York, 1867); “Sermons by Henry Ward Beecher: Selected from Published and Unpublished Discourses,” edited by Lyman Abbott (2 vols., 1868); “Morning and Evening Devotional Exercises,” edited by Lyman Abbott (1870); “Comforting Thoughts” (1884), by Irene Ovington. Mr. Beecher had completed the second and concluding volume of his “Life of Christ,” which is to be published this year (1887), with a re-publication of the first volume. His biography has been written by Lyman Abbott (New York, 1883). A new life, to be written by his son, William C. Beecher, will include an unfinished autobiography. Mr. Beecher was buried in Greenwood cemetery, and a movement was immediately begun for a monument, to be paid for by popular subscription. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 218-219.


BEECHER, Lyman, 1775-1863, abolitionist leader, clergyman, educator, writer.  Active in the Cincinnati, Ohio, auxiliary of the American Colonization Society, founded in Washington, DC, December 1816.  Co-founder, American Temperance Society.  President, Lane Theological Seminary.  Major spokesman for the anti-slavery cause in the United States.  Father of notable abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Ward Beecher, Edward Beecher and Charles Beecher.

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 216-217; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 135; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 134, 140, 196, 231)

BEECHER, Lyman, clergyman, b. in New Haven, Conn., 2 Oct., 1775; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 10 Jan., 1863. His ancestor in the fifth ascent emigrated to New England, and settled at New Haven in 1638. His father, David Beecher, was a blacksmith. His mother died shortly after his birth, and he was committed to the care of his uncle Lot Benton, by whom he was adopted as a son, and with whom his early life was spent between blacksmithing and farming. But it was soon found that he preferred study. He was fitted for college by the Rev. Thomas W. Bray, and at the age of eighteen entered Yale, where, besides the usual classical course, he studied theology under President Dwight and was graduated in 1797. After this he continued his studies until September, 1798, when he was licensed to preach by the New Haven West Association, entered upon his clerical duties by supplying the pulpit in the Presbyterian church at East Hampton, Long Island, and was ordained in 1799. Here he married his first wife, Roxana Foote. His salary was $300 a year, after five years increased to $400, with a dilapidated parsonage. To eke out his scanty income, his wife opened a private school, in which the husband also gave instruction. Mr. Beecher soon became one of the foremost preachers of his day. A sermon that he delivered in 1804, on the death of Alexander Hamilton, excited great attention. Finding his salary wholly inadequate to support his increasing family, he resigned the charge, and in 1810 was installed pastor of the Congregational church in Litchfield, Conn. Here he remained for sixteen years, during which he took rank as the foremost clergyman of his denomination. In his autobiography he says this pastorate was “the most laborious part of his life.” The vice of intemperance had become common in New England, even the formal meetings of the clergy being not unfrequently accompanied by gross excesses, and Mr. Beecher resolved to take a stand against it. About 1814 he delivered and published six sermons on intemperance, which contain eloquent passages hardly exceeded by anything in the English language. They were sent broadcast through the United States, ran rapidly through many editions in England, and were translated into several languages on the continent, and have had a large sale even after the lapse of fifty years. His eloquence, zeal, and courage as a preacher, and his leading the way in the organization of the Bible, missionary, and educational societies, gave him a high reputation throughout New England. During his residence in Litchfield arose the Unitarian controversy, in which he took a prominent part. Litchfield was at this time the seat of a famous law school and several other institutions of learning, and Mr. Beecher (now a doctor of divinity) and his wife undertook to supervise the training of several young women, who were received into their family. But here too he found his salary ($800 a year) inadequate. The rapid and extensive defection of the Congregational churches in Boston and vicinity, under the lead of Dr. Channing and others in sympathy with him, had excited much anxiety throughout New England; and in 1826 Mr. Beecher received a call to become pastor of the Hanover street church in Boston. At the urgent request of his clerical brethren, he took the charge for the purpose of upholding the doctrines of Puritanism, and remained in this church six years and a half. His sermons at this time were largely controversial; he flung himself into the thickest of the fray, and was sustained by an immense following. About this time the religious public had become impressed with the growing importance of the great west; a theological seminary had been founded at Walnut Bills, near Cincinnati, O., and named Lane Seminary, after one of its principal benefactors, and a large amount of money was pledged to the institution on condition that Dr. Beecher accept the presidency, which he did in 1832. He retained the place for twenty years, and his name was continued in the seminary catalogue, as president, until his death. He was also, during the first ten years of his presidency, pastor of the Second Presbyterian church in Cincinnati. Soon after his removal thither he startled the religious public in the east by a tract calling attention to the danger of Roman Catholic supremacy in the west. The French revolution of 1830, the agitation in England for reform and against colonial slavery, and the punishment by American courts of citizens who had dared to attack the slave-trade carried on under the American flag, had begun to direct the attention of American philanthropists to the evils of American slavery, and an abolition convention met in Philadelphia in 1833. Its president, Arthur Tappan, through whose liberal donations Dr. Beecher had been secured to Lane seminary, forwarded to the students a copy of the address issued by the convention, and the whole subject was soon under discussion. Many of the students were from the south; an effort was made to stop the discussions and the meetings; slaveholders went over from Kentucky and incited mob violence; and for several weeks Dr. Beecher lived in a turmoil, not knowing how soon the rabble might destroy the seminary and the houses of the professors. The board of trustees interfered during the absence of Dr. Beecher, and allayed the excitement of the mob by forbidding all further discussion of slavery in the seminary, whereupon the students withdrew en masse. A very few were persuaded to return and remain, while the seceders laid the foundation of Oberlin College. For seventeen years after this, Dr. Beecher and his able coworker, Prof. Stowe, remained and tried to revive the prosperity of the seminary, but at last abandoned it. The great project of their lives was defeated, and they returned to the eastern states. In 1835 Dr. Beecher, who had been called “a moderate Calvinist,” was arraigned on charges of hypocrisy and heresy by some of the stronger Calvinists. The trial took place in his own church; and he defended himself, while burdened with the cares of his seminary, his church, and his wife at home on her death-bed. The trial resulted in acquittal, and, on an appeal to the general synod, he was again acquitted; but the controversy engendered by the action went on until the Presbyterian church was rent in twain. In the theological controversies that led to the excision of a portion of the general assembly of the Presbyterian church in 1837-'8, Dr. Beecher took an active part, adhering to the new school branch. In 1852 he resigned the presidency of Lane Seminary, and returned to Boston, purposing to devote himself mainly to the revisal and publication of his works. But his intellectual powers began to decline, while his physical strength was unabated. About his eightieth year he suffered a stroke of paralysis, and thenceforth his mental powers only gleamed out occasionally with some indications of their former splendor. The last ten years of his life were passed in Brooklyn, N. Y., in the home of his son, Henry Ward Beecher. Dr. Beecher was a man of great intellectual power, though not a profound scholar. His sermons were usually extemporaneous, as far as form was concerned, but were carefully thought out, often while he was engaged in active physical exercise; but his writings were elaborated with the utmost care. He stood unequalled among living divines for dialectic keenness, pungent appeal, lambent wit, vigor of thought, and concentrated power of expression. He possessed intense personal magnetism, and an indomitable will, and was thoroughly devoted to his chosen work. The sincerity and spirituality of his preaching were generally acknowledged, and were attended by tangible results. He was bold to the point of audacity, and it was this feature of his character, probably more than any positive errors, that made him a subject of anxiety to the more conservative class of the theologians of his own denomination. His great boldness in denouncing laxity in regard to the standard of the Christian orthodoxy made a deep impress on the public mind. The degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Yale in 1809, and that of D. D. by Middlebury College in 1818. When he became president of Lane Seminary, he took also the chair of sacred theology. He was the author of a great number of printed sermons and addresses. His published works are: “Remedy for Duelling” (New York, 1809); “Plea for the West,” “Six Sermons on Temperance,” “Sermons on Various Occasions,” (1842), “Views in Theology,” “Skepticism,” “Lectures on Various Occasions,” “Political Atheism.” He made a collection of those of his works which he deemed the most valuable (3 vols., Boston, 1852). He was three times married—in 1799, 1817, and 1836—and had thirteen children. Most of his children have attained literary or theological distinction. All his sons became Congregational clergymen, viz., William Henry, Edward, George, Henry Ward, Charles, Thomas Kinnicut, and James Chaplin. The daughters are Catherine Esther, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Beecher Perkins, and Isabella Beecher Hooker. He was proverbially absent-minded, and after having been wrought up by the excitement of preaching was accustomed to relax his mind by playing “Auld Lang Syne” on the violin, or dancing the “double shuffle” in his parlor. His autobiography and correspondence was edited by the Rev. Charles Beecher (New York, 1863). See also “Life and Services of Lyman Beecher,” by the Rev. D. H. Allen (Cincinnati, 1863). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 216-217.


BEMAN, Amos Geary, 1812-1874, New Haven, Connecticut, African American clergyman, abolitionist, speaker, temperance advocate, community leader.  Member of the American Anti-Slavery Society 1833-1840.  Later, founding member of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.  Traveled extensively and lectured on abolition.  Leader, Negro Convention Movement.  Founder and first Secretary of Anti-Slavery Union Missionary Society.  Later organized as American Missionary Association (AMA), 1846.  Championed Black civil rights.  Promoted anti-slavery causes and African American civil rights causes, worked with Frederick Douglass and wrote for his newspaper, The North Star

(American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 540; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 1, p. 463)


BEMAN, Jehiel C., c. 1789-1858, Connecticut, Boston, Massachusetts, African American, clergyman, abolitionist, temperance activist.  Manger, American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), 1837-1839.  Executive Committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1841-1843.

(Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 1, p. 477)


BENEZET, Anthony, 1713-1784, French-born American, Society of Friends, Quaker, philanthropist, author, reformer, educator, early and important abolitionist leader.  Founded Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, in Philadelphia.  Also founded one of the first girls’ public schools that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Worked with abolitionist John Woolman.  Wrote: A Caution and Warning to Great Britain and Her Colonies, in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominions, 1766; Some Historical Account of Guinea, Its Situation, Produce, and the General Disposition of Its Inhabitants, with an Enquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave-Trade, Its Nature and Lamentable Effects, 1771; and Observations on the Inslaving, Importing and Purchasing Negroes, 1748.

(Basker, 2005; Bruns, 1977, pp. 108, 214, 221, 224, 246, 262-263, 269-270, 302; Drake, 1950, pp. 54-56, 62, 64, 70, 75, 83, 86, 90-94, 106-107, 112-113, 120-121, 155; Dumond, 1961, pp. 17, 19, 52, 87; Locke, 1901, pp. 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 52, 54, 56, 78, 94; Nash, 1991; Pease, 1965, pp. xxiv, 1-5; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 17-20, 290, 331, 433, 458, 515; Soderlund, 1985, pp. 4, 10, 29-30, 43-45, 47, 78, 140, 151, 166, 170-171, 174, 175, 176, 186, 189, 198; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 27, 72, 74-75, 85-93, 98, 125, 131; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 234; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 177-178; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 562; Vaux, Robert, Memoirs of the Life of Anthony Benezet, 1817.)

BENEZET, Anthony, philanthropist, b. in St. Quentin, France, 31 Jan., 1713; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 3 May, 1784. He was descended from wealthy and noble French parents, who fled from France to Holland in 1685, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and thence to England in 1715. In London his relatives became Quakers, and in 1731 they settled in Philadelphia. He apprenticed himself to a cooper, but in 1742 became instructor in the Friends' English school, and continued to teach until near the end of his life. He devoted much attention to the abolition of the slave-trade, and advocated the emancipation and education of the colored population, opening for that purpose an evening school. During the revolutionary war and the occupation of Philadelphia by the British army, he was active in alleviating the sufferings of the prisoners. He published tracts, which were gratuitously distributed throughout the country, the most important being “A Caution to Great Britain and her Colonies, in a Short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominion” (Philadelphia, 1767); “Some Historical Account of Guinea, with an Inquiry into the Rise and Progress of the Slave Trade” (1772); “Observations on the Indian Natives of this Continent” (1784); “A Short Account of the Society of Friends” (1780); and “Dissertation on the Christian Religion” (1782). See “Memoir of Anthony Benezet,” by Roberts Vaux (New York, 1817). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 234.


BIRD, Francis William, 1809-1894, anti-slavery political leader, radical reformer.  Member of the anti-slavery “Conscience Whigs,” leader of the Massachusetts Free Soil Party.  Led anti-slavery faction of the newly formed Republican Party.  Supported abolitionist Party leader Charles Sumner.  Opposed Dred Scott decision.  “Bird Club” greatly influenced radical Republican politics in Massachusetts and in the U.S. Senate.  Organized Emancipation League.  Supported enlistment of African Americans in the Union Army and emancipation of Blacks in the District of Columbia.  Supported women’s rights, Indian rights, suffrage rights for Chinese, and other causes. Editor of the Free Soiler newspaper.  (American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 805)


BIRNEY, James Gillespie, 1792-1857, abolitionist leader, statesman, orator, writer, lawyer, jurist, newspaper publisher.  On two occasions, mobs in Cincinnati attacked and wrecked his newspaper office.  Beginning in 1832, Birney was an agent for the American colonization Society, representing the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.  In 1833, he transferred to agent in Kentucky.  Wrote pro-colonization articles for Alabama Democrat.  Editor of the Philanthropist, founded 1836.  Founder and president of the Liberty Party in 1848.  Third party presidential candidate, 1840, 1844.  Founder University of Alabama.  Native American rights advocate.  Member of the American Colonization Society.  American Anti-Slavery Society, Manager, 1835-1836, Vice President, 1835-1836, 1836-1838, Executive Committee, 1838-1840, Corresponding Secretary, 1838-1840. American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, Secretary, 1840-1841, Executive Committee, 1840-1842.  His writings include: “Ten Letters on Slavery and Colonization,” (1832-1833), “Addresses and Speeches,” (1835), “Vindication of the Abolitionists,” (1835), “The Philanthropist,” a weekly newspaper (1836-1837), “Address of Slaveholders,” (1836), “Argument on Fugitive Slave Case,” (1837), “Political Obligations of Abolitionists,” (1839), “American Churches the Bulwarks of American Slavery,” (1840), and “Speeches in England,” (1840). 

See also – Libery Party

(Birney, 1969; Blue, 2005, pp. 20-21, 25, 30, 32, 48-51, 55, 9-99, 101, 139, 142, 163, 186, 217; Burin, 2005, pp. 84, 112; Drake, 1950, pp. 141, 149, 159; Dumond, 1938; Dumond, 1961, pp. 90, 93, 176, 179, 185, 197, 198, 200-202, 257-262, 286, 297, 300-301, 303; Filler, 1960, pp. 55, 73, 77, 89, 94, 107, 128, 131, 137, 140-141, 148, 152, 156, 176; Fladeland, 1955; Harrold, 1995; Mabee, 1970, pp. 27, 36, 40, 41, 49, 54, 55, 60, 71, 92, 195, 228, 252,293, 301, 323, 328, 350; Mitchell, 2007, pp. 4-5, 7, 8, 13-15, 18, 21-31, 35, 50, 101, 199, 225; Pease, 1965, pp. 43-49; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 43-44, 46, 48, 163, 188-189, 364, 522; Sorin, 1971, pp. 25, 47, 51, 52, 65, 70n, 97, 103n; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 146-148, 211-212, 229-230; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 267-269; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 291-294; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 79-80; Birney, William, Jas. G. Birney and His Times, 1890; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 312-313)

BIRNEY, James Gillespie, statesman, b. in Danville, Ky., 4 Feb., 1792; d. in Perth Amboy, N. J., 25 Nov., 1857. His ancestors were Protestants of the province of Ulster, Ireland. His father, migrating to the United States at sixteen years of age, settled in Kentucky, became a wealthy merchant, manufacturer, and farmer, and for many years was president of the Danville bank. His mother died when he was three years old, and his early boyhood was passed under the care of a pious aunt. Giving promise of talent and force of character, he was liberally educated with a view to his becoming a lawyer and statesman. After preparation at good schools and at Transylvania university he was sent to Princeton, where he was graduated with honors in 1810. Having studied law for three years, chiefly under Alexander J. Dallas, of Philadelphia, he returned to his native place in 1814 and began practice. In 1816 he married a daughter of William McDowell, judge of the U. S. circuit court and one of several brothers who, with their relatives, connections, and descendants, were the most influential family in Kentucky. In the same year he was elected to the legislature, in which body he opposed and defeated in its original form a proposition to demand of the states of Ohio and Indiana the enactment of laws for the seizure, imprisonment, and delivery to owners of slaves escaping into their limits. His education in New Jersey and Pennsylvania at the time when the gradual emancipation laws of those states were in operation had led him to favor that solution of the slavery problem. In the year 1818 he removed to Alabama, bought a cotton plantation near Huntsville, and served as a member of the first legislature that assembled under the constitution of 1819. Though he was not a member of the convention that framed the instrument, it was chiefly through his influence that a provision of the Kentucky constitution, empowering the general assembly to emancipate slaves on making compensation to the owners, and to prohibit the bringing of slaves into the state for sale, was copied into it, with amendments designed to secure humane treatment for that unfortunate class. In the legislature he voted against a resolution of honor to Gen. Jackson, assigning his reasons in a forcible speech. This placed him politically in a small minority. In 1823, having found planting unprofitable, partly because of his refusal to permit his overseer to use the lash, he resumed at Huntsville the practice of his profession, was appointed solicitor of the northern circuit, and soon gained a large and lucrative practice. In 1826 he made a public profession of religion, united with the Presbyterian church, and was ever afterward a devout Christian. About the same time he began to contribute to the American colonization society, regarding it as preparing the way for gradual emancipation. In 1827 he procured the enactment by the Alabama legislature of a statute "to prohibit the importation of slaves into this state for sale or hire." In 1828 he was a candidate for presidential elector on the Adams ticket in Alabama, canvassed the state for the Adams party, and was regarded as its most prominent member. He was repeatedly elected mayor of Huntsville, and was recognized as the leader in educational movements and local improvements. In 1830 he was deputed by the trustees of the state university to select and recommend to them five persons as president and professors of that institution, also by the trustees of the Huntsville female seminary to select and employ three teachers. In the performance of these trusts he spent several months in the Atlantic states, extending his tour as far north as Massachusetts. His selections were approved. Returning home by way of Kentucky, he called on Henry Clay, with whom he had been on terms of friendship and political sympathy, and urged that statesman to place himself at the head of the gradual emancipation movement in Kentucky. The result of the interview was the final alienation in public matters and politics of the parties to it, though their friendly personal relations remained unchanged. Mr. Birney did not support Mr. Clay politically after 1830 or vote for him in 1832. For several years he was the confidential adviser and counsel of the Cherokee nation, an experience that led him to sympathize with bodies of men who were wronged under color of law. In 1831 he had become so sensible of the evil influences of slavery that he determined to remove his large family to a free state, and in the winter of that year visited Illinois and selected Jacksonville as the place of his future residence. Returning to Alabama, he was winding up his law business and selling his property with a view to removal, when he received, most unexpectedly, an appointment from the American colonization society as its agent for the southwest. From motives of duty he accepted and devoted himself for one year to the promotion of the objects of that society. Having become convinced that the slave-holders of the gulf states, with few exceptions, were hostile to the idea of emancipation in the future, he lost faith in the efficacy of colonization in that region. In his conversations about that time with southern politicians and men of influence he learned enough to satisfy him that, although the secret negotiations in 1829 of the Jackson administration for the purchase of Texas had failed, the project of annexing that province to the United States and forming several slave states out of its territory had not been abandoned; that a powerful combination existed at the south for the purpose of sending armed adventurers to Texas; and that southern politicians were united in the design to secure for the south a majority in the U. S. senate. The situation seemed to him to portend the permanence of slavery, with grave danger of civil war and disunion of the states. Resigning his agency and relinquishing his Illinois project, he removed, in November, 1833, to Kentucky for the purpose of separating it from the slave states by effecting the adoption of a system of gradual emancipation. He thought its example might be followed by Virginia and Tennessee, and that thus the slave states would be placed in a hopeless minority, and slavery in process of extinction. But public opinion in his native state had greatly changed since he had left it; the once powerful emancipation element had been weakened by the opposition of political leaders, and especially of Henry Clay. His efforts were sustained by very few. In June, 1834, he set free his own slaves and severed his connection with the colonization society, the practical effect of which, he had found, was to afford a pretext for postponing emancipation indefinitely. From this time he devoted himself with untiring zeal to the advocacy in Kentucky of the abolition of slavery. On 19 March, 1835, he formed the Kentucky anti-slavery society, consisting of forty members, several of whom had freed their slaves. In May, at New York, he made the principal speech at the meeting of the American anti-slavery society, and thenceforward he was identified with the Tappans, Judge William Jay, Theodore D. Weld, Alvan Stewart, Thomas Morris, and other northern abolitionists, who pursued their object by constitutional methods. In June, 1835, he issued a prospectus for the publication, beginning in August, of an anti-slavery weekly paper, at Danville, Ky.; but before the time fixed for issuing the first number the era of mob violence and social persecutions, directed against the opponents of slavery, set in. This was contemporaneous with the renewed organization of revolts in Texas; the beginning of the war for breaking up the refuge for fugitive slaves, waged for years against the Florida Seminoles; and the exclusion, by connivance of the postmaster-general, of anti-slavery papers from the U. S. mails; and it preceded, by a few months only, President Jackson's message, recommending not only the refusal of the use of the mails, but the passage of laws by congress and also by the non-slaveholding states for the suppression of “incendiary” (anti- slavery) publications. Mr. Birney found it impossible to obtain a publisher or printer; and as his own residence in Kentucky had become disagreeable and dangerous, he removed to Cincinnati, where he established his paper. His press was repeatedly destroyed by mobs; but he met all opposition with courage and succeeded finally in maintaining the freedom of the press in Cincinnati, exhibiting great personal courage, firmness, and judgment. On 22 Jan., 1836, a mob assembled at the court-house for the purpose of destroying his property and seizing his person; the city and county authorities had notified him of their inability to protect him; he attended the meeting, obtained leave to speak, and succeeded in defeating its object. As an editor, he was distinguished by a thorough knowledge of his subject, courtesy, candor, and large attainments as a jurist and statesman. The “Philanthropist” gained rapidly an extensive circulation. Having associated with him as editor Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, he devoted most of his own time to public speaking, visiting in this work most of the cities and towns in the free states and addressing committees of legislative bodies. His object was to awaken the people of the north to the danger menacing the freedom of speech and of the press, the trial by jury, the system of free labor, and the national constitution, from the encroachments of the slave-power and the plotted annexation of new slave states in the southwest. In recognition of his prominence as an anti-slavery leader, the executive committee of the American anti-slavery society unanimously elected him, in the summer of 1837, to the office of secretary. Having accepted, he removed to New York city, 20 Sept., 1837. In his new position he was the executive officer of the society, conducted its correspondence, selected and employed lecturers, directed the organization of auxiliaries, and prepared its reports. He attended the principal anti-slavery conventions, and his wise and conservative counsel had a marked influence on their action. He was faithful to the church, while he exposed and rebuked the ecclesiastical bodies that sustained slavery; and true to the constitution, while he denounced the constructions that severed it from the principles contained in its preamble and in the declaration of independence. To secession, whether of the north or south, he was inflexibly opposed. The toleration or establishment of slavery in any district or territory belonging to the United States, and its abolition in the slave states, except under the war power, he held was not within the legal power of congress; slavery was local, and freedom national. To vote he considered the duty of every citizen, and more especially of every member of the American anti-slavery society, the constitution of which recognized the duty of using both moral and political action for the removal of slavery. In the beginning of the agitation the abolitionists voted for such anti-slavery candidates as were nominated by the leading parties; but as the issues grew, under the aggressive action of the slave power, to include the right of petition, the freedom of speech and of the press, the trial by jury, the equality of all men before the law, the right of the free states to legislate for their own territory, and the right of congress to exclude slavery from the territories, the old parties ceased to nominate anti-slavery candidates, and the abolitionists were forced to make independent nominations for state officers and congress, and finally to form a national and constitutional party. Mr. Birney was their first and only choice as candidate for the presidency. During his absence in England, in 1840, and again in 1844, he was unanimously nominated by national conventions of the liberty party. At the former election he received 7,369 votes; and at the latter, 62,263. This number, it was claimed by his friends, would have been much larger if the electioneering agents of the whig party had not circulated, three days before the election and too late for denial and exposure, a forged letter purporting to be from Mr. Birney, announcing his withdrawal from the canvass, and advising anti-slavery men to vote for Mr. Clay. This is known as “the Garland forgery.” Its circulation in Ohio and New York probably gave the former state to Mr. Clay, and greatly diminished Mr. Birney's vote in the latter. In its essential doctrines the platform of the liberty party in 1840 and 1844 was identical with those that were subsequently adopted by the free-soil and republican parties. In the summer of 1845 Mr. Birney was disabled physically by partial paralysis, caused by a fall from a horse, and from that time he withdrew from active participation in politics, though he continued his contributions to the press. In September, 1839, he emancipated twenty-one slaves that belonged to his late father's estate, setting off to his co-heir $20,000, in compensation for her interest in them. In 1839 Mr. Birney lost his wife, and in the autumn of 1841 he married Miss Fitzhugh, sister of Mrs. Gerrit Smith, of New York. In 1842 he took up his residence in Bay City, Mich. In person he was of medium height, robust build, and handsome countenance. His manners were those of a polished man of the world, free from eccentricities, and marked with dignity. He had neither vices nor bad habits. As a presiding officer in a public meeting he was said to have no superior. As a public speaker he was generally calm and judicial in tone; but when under strong excitement he rose to eloquence. His chief writings were as follows: “Ten Letters on Slavery and Colonization,” addressed to R. R. Gurley (the first dated 12 July, 1832, the last 11 Dec., 1833); “Six Essays on Slavery and Colonization,” published in the Huntsville (Ala.) “Advocate” (May, June, and July, 1833); “Letter on Colonization,” resigning vice-presidency of Kentucky colonization society (15 July, 1834); “Letters to the Presbyterian Church” (1834); “Addresses and Speeches” (1835); “Vindication of the Abolitionists” (1835); “The Philanthropist,” a weekly newspaper (1836 and to September, 1837); “Letter to Col. Stone” (May, 1836); “Address to Slaveholders” (October, 1836); “Argument on Fugitive Slave Case” (1837); “Letter to F. H. Elmore,” of South Carolina (1838); “Political Obligations of Abolitionists” (1839); “Report on the Duty of Political Action,” for executive committee of the American anti-slavery society (May, 1839); “American Churches the Bulwarks of American Slavery” (1840); “Speeches in England” (1840); “Letter of Acceptance”; “Articles in Q. A. S. Magazine and Emancipator” (1837-'44); “Examination of the Decision of the U. S. Supreme Court,” in the case of Strader et al., v. Graham (1850). —His son, James, b. in Danville, Ky., 7 June, 1817; was a state senator in Michigan in 1859, and was lieutenant-governor of the state and acting governor in 1861-'3. He was appointed by President Grant, in 1876, minister at the Hague, and held that office until 1882.—Another son, William, lawyer, b. near Huntsville, Ala., 28 May, 1819. While pursuing his studies in Paris, in February, 1848, he took an active part in the revolution, and he was appointed on public competition professor of English literature in the college at Bourges. He entered the U. S. national service as captain in April, 1861, and rose through all the grades to the rank of brevet major-general of volunteers, commanding a division for the last two years of the civil war. He participated in the principal battles in Virginia, and, being sent for a short time to Florida after the battle of Olustee, regained possession of the principal parts of the state and of several of the confederate strongholds. ln 1863-'4, having been detailed by the war department as one of three superintendents of the organization of U. S. colored troops, he enlisted, mustered in, armed, equipped, drilled, and sent to the field seven regiments of those troops. In this work he opened all the slave-prisons in Baltimore, and freed their inmates, including many slaves belonging to men in the confederate armies. The result of his operations was to hasten the abolition of slavery in Maryland. He passed four years in Florida after the war, and in 1874 removed to Washington, D. C., where he practised his profession and became attorney for the District of Columbia.— The third son, Dion, physician, entered the army as lieutenant at the beginning of the civil war, rose to the rank of captain, and died in 1864 of disease contracted in the service.—The fourth son, David Bell, b. in Huntsville, Ala., 29 May, 1825; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 18 Oct., 1864, studied law in Cincinnati, and, after engaging in business in Michigan, began the practice of law in Philadelphia in 1848. He entered the army as lieutenant-colonel at the beginning of the civil war, and was made colonel of the 23d Pennsylvania volunteers, which regiment he raised, principally at his own expense, in the summer of 1861. He was promoted successively to brigadier and major-general of volunteers, and distinguished himself in the battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg, the second battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. After the death of Gen. Berry he commanded the division, receiving his commission as major-general, 23 May, 1863. He commanded the 3d corps at Gettysburg, after Gen. Sickles was wounded, and on 23 July, 1864, was given the command of the 10th corps. He died of disease contracted in the service.—A fifth son, Fitzhugh, died, in 1864, of wounds and disease, in the service with the rank of colonel—A grandson, James Gillespie, was lieutenant and captain of cavalry, served as staff officer under Custer and Sheridan, was appointed lieutenant in the regular army at the close of the war; and died soon afterward of disease contracted in the service. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 267-269.



Chapter: “Black Laws,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

The slave system in nothing exhibited its callous and calculating insensibility, its utter obliviousness of justice and humanity, its reckless disregard of the commonest principles of social comity and fair dealing, more than in its treatment of free people of color. It exhibited greater cruelty to the slave, and the burden of absolute chattelhood was harder to bear; but it is difficult to imagine anything more heartless and unprincipled than the utter indifference that characterized its treatment of the men and women of African descent. Had the Decalogue never been written, the claim of the moral law could not have been more completely ignored. It doomed a race, and culture and character furnished no protection. Its degrading influences were everywhere felt, and the lines of latitude and longitude afforded no limits to its unjust and insulting-discrimination. All this is but too painfully apparent from a reference to the inhuman and cold-blooded laws enacted in the Border States, both North and South.

There were in 1847 in the State of Virginia several thousand free negroes. Though they were denied many of the essential rights of citizenship, they were a quiet and law-abiding people. Still they were objects of slaveholding distrust, their presence was regarded as inimical to the interests of slavery, and during that year laws were enacted against their remaining in the State. In the revised constitution of 185l it was provided that slaves thereafter emancipated, if they remained in the State more than twelve months, should forfeit their freedom, and be reduced to slavery under such regulations as might be prescribed by law. It provided, also, that the legislature should not have power to emancipate any slave, or the descendant of any slave; that it might impose such restrictions and conditions as were deemed proper on the power of slaveholders to emancipate their slaves and that it also be empowered to pass any needful laws for the relief of the State of its-free negro population, by removal or otherwise. So earnest were its inhabitants to effect this latter object, that only two years later a board of colonization for such removal was established, and a tax was levied on all male free negroes between the ages of twenty-one and fifty-five to defray the expenses of such colonization. More than a quarter of a century before, it had prohibited meetings or schools for teaching free negroes; had passed laws against the preaching of slaves and free negroes; and as early as 1838 it had forbidden free persons of color to leave the State for the purposes of education; except on the forfeiture of all right to return. In 1847 it re-enacted that white persons should be punished for instructing slaves. It also made it the duty of postmasters to give notice to justices of the peace of the presence of antislavery publications, such as they might deem incendiary; and these latter officials were required to burn the offensive matter and punish those to whom it had been sent. Two years later still, a law was passed by the same legislature denying citizenship to free colored men.

The same illiberal policy prevailed in Maryland. In 1846 it denied to colored persons the right to testify in cases in which any white person was concerned, although as far back as 1809 it had admitted the testimony of slaves against free negroes. By the new constitution of 1851, the legislature was forbidden to pass any law abolishing the relation of master and slave; but ample powers were given for the government, regulation, and disposition of the free colored population of the State. But while, on the one hand, it was thus hampering the exercise of any movement in favor of emancipation, it was, on the other, departing from its past policy concerning the slave traffic by abolishing, all restrictions and throwing wide open the doors for the unlimited introduction of slaves.

In Delaware slavery existed in its mildest, forms, and. the rule of the Slave Power was less rigorous than in that of any other slaveholding State. And yet its legislation bore the marks and breathed the spirit of the same inhuman and unjust discrimination against the free colored man. In 1851, it prohibited the emigration of free negroes to any State except Maryland. In the same year it enacted that free negroes should not attend camp-meetings or any political gatherings. In 1852 it provided that no free negro should have the right to vote, or "to enjoy any other rights of a freeman other than to hold property, or to obtain redress in law for any injury to his or her personal property."

When. Missouri was admitted into the Union, her constitution empowered the legislature to prevent free negroes from either entering or settling in the State. But a fundamental condition of her admission was that this provision should never be so construed as to authorize the passage of any law excluding the citizens of any State from such privileges and immunities as such citizens should be entitled to under the Constitution. And yet, in spite of this solemn provision and condition, it proceeded to enact most barbarous and revolting statutes. In 1847 it forbade the immigration into the State of any free colored person; enacted that no person should keep a school for the instruction of negroes in reading and writing; forbade any religious meetings of negroes, unless a justice of the peace or' constable were present; and declared that schools and religious meetings were "unlawful assemblages."

Nor was this, inhuman and unjust legislation confined to the slave States. In many of the so-called free States it was hardly less unpardonable and unendurable. It seemed as if the whole country, was under an eclipse; and, though it was total only at the South, its dark penumbra rested over all the North. Thus Indiana, in a constitutional convention held in 1851, passed through a similar ordeal, in which the friends of freedom found themselves in a hopeless minority, while the enemies of the black man were successful in securing, both in the convention and afterward in the State, the adoption of provisions unjust, inhuman, and disgraceful in the extreme. The convention assembled in October, 1850, and consisted of one hundred and fifty members. The body contained the leading and representative men of both the Whig and the Democratic parties of the State, the latter constituting two thirds of the convention. Among the leading Democrats were John Pettit, who had been a member of the lower house of Congress, and afterward Senator, --a man of acknowledged ability, but one who distinguished himself for his intense proslavery doctrines, put forth in vigorous but often coarse and violent language; Robert Dale Owen, a scholarly gentleman, since a member of Congress and of the Republican party, --an earnest supporter of the war, and author of several contributions to spiritualistic literature; and Thomas A. Hendricks, who was afterward elected to the Senate of the United States, was governor of the State, and became a leading member of his party. Among the Whigs were Schuyler Colfax, --then a young and rising statesman, who has since filled a large space in the political history of his State and nation, being almost continuously in public life, three times Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Vice-President of the United States, --McKee, Dunn, March, and several others, who took an active part in the proceedings of the convention.

The southern portion of Indiana had been largely settled by emigrants from the Southern States, who, though compelled to leave slavery behind, carried with them slaveholding prejudices that constituted a bond of sympathy between the State of their adoption and the States they had left. This, in conjunction with that tidal wave of slaveholding aggressiveness and intolerance which had swept over the country, bearing even Congress itself from its moorings, as indicated by the passage of the compromise measures, and making its influences felt everywhere, became largely apparent in the convention; securing the adoption of provisions in the constitution proposed hardly less censurable and disgraceful than those in the constitutions of the Southern States themselves. Indeed, one of the severest struggles in the convention was on a proposition to prohibit negroes and mulattoes from coming into the State, and to fine all persons who employed or encouraged them five hundred dollars for, each offence. Although this inhuman and unjust provision was adopted by a large majority, it was not without a strenuous and stern resistance from a determined minority, among whom were Colfax, Dunn, Niles, Biddle, Hawkins, Kilgore, and others. They denounced it in no measured terms as a disgrace to a professedly free State; as an inhumanity from which even barbarism itself would shrink; as a dishonor that Mohammedans in notable instances of fleeing fugitives had refused to be guilty of; and as punishing with fine and confiscation the very conduct which the Saviour had commended in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

But all arguments and appeals were in vain. The disgraceful proposition was carried by a large majority, and, being submitted to the people for a separate vote, proved to be the most popular proposition of the constitution, and received more than ninety thousand majority; so envenomed and unrelenting seemed the popular hate of the black man, so oblivious were the people of human rights, so impervious to the claims of justice, humanity, and the law of God. This appeared not only in the strong vote for the adoption of this article, but in subsequent legislation, designed not simply to enforce it, but to still more oppress, hamper the movements, and limit the privileges of the free colored population. Among these acts were those forbidding marriages between white persons and those " possessed of one eighth or more of negro blood "; providing for their colonization in Africa; annulling contracts with them; requiring registry; punishing as a crime any act of a white man encouraging such to come into the State; and in all cases where white persons were interested parties prohibiting the evidence of persons having one eighth or more of negro blood.

But the public men who contended in the convention against such legislation as wrong and subversive of the purposes of free institutions were compelled to encounter at the hustings and at the polls the same determined and acrimonious opposition. Among the examples was that of Mr. Colfax, who was nominated for Congress by the Whigs of his district. The election taking place at the same time with the vote on the constitution, he was compelled to meet his opponent in the canvass and to define, his position. While his competitor defended the action of the convention, Mr. Colfax was equally decided ill' his opposition. “These," he said, "are my conscientious convictions. If you ask me to sacrifice them for a. seat in Congress, I tell you frankly I cannot do it. I would not act counter to my convictions of duty if you could give me fifty terms in Congress." He was defeated, though he succeeded at the next election.

These laws were rigorously enforced, -- at least, in portions of the State. Even as late as the summer of 1863, Henry Goings, a colored man, was prosecuted and fined for coming into the State, as also John Bixler, a farmer, for employing him in his harvest-field. Even then, while the country was bending under the burden of a war that slavery had provoked, and Indiana had its tens of thousands of soldiers in the field, enduring its hardships and encountering its hazards, the State, through one of its officials, was guilty of the unspeakable meanness of arresting, arraigning, and amercing by fine a man sent into its borders by a general of the army. This colored man was one of the many refugees sent down the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers by General Rosecrans, with orders that they be taken across the Ohio. His liberation and transfer to a free State became in this manner one of the incidental fruits of the war for the Union, but it revealed the astounding solecism of a State punishing a man for entering its limits who was sent there as one of the trophies of the victories its own soldiers were winning. An appeal was taken from the justice court to a higher tribunal, where he was ably defended by A. L. Robinson of Evansville, an able antislavery lawyer, who had been the Free Soil candidate for governor in 1852. Goings was acquitted, but it was on the ground that he was a Cherokee Indian, so that even his acquittal and the alleged reason therefor betokened the strangely inconsistent and indefensible attitude the nation was exhibiting. Goings was acquitted and a allowed the poor boon of staying on Indiana soil, not because he was a man; not because it was wrong to restrain him of his liberty, but because he was an Indian.

Illinois, like Indiana, had been largely settled from the ·slave States. Many of its early settlers were in favor of making the new State of their adoption the home of the same system of servitude that had so deeply cursed the old States they had 'left' behind; while others, opposed to that, were in favor of laws that would bar the colored man from the State or keep him in a degraded condition in it. And such, indeed, was much of the special legislation of Illinois upon the subject.

The spirit of caste, that ostracized the colored population in society and discriminated against it even in the sacred precincts of the church, pervaded the legislature and increased rather than modified the rigors of its legislation. Thus, as late as 1853 she enacted a new law making it a misdemeanor for a free colored person to come into the State with the intention of  residing there, and enacted that such persons might be prosecuted, fined, and sold for a time, to pay the fine and costs. It forbade, too, the entrance of slaves, though it meanly provided that the owners of slaves might take them in transit through the State. In 1851, Iowa also prohibited such immigration, and enacted that free colored persons should not give testimony in cases in which a white man was a party. In like manner and with similar intent was the legislation of other States and Territories. In 1849, Oregon enacted that negroes should not be admitted as settlers or inhabitants. New Mexico passed an act, in 1851, recognizing and establishing peonage. Utah provided, in 1852, that persons coming into that Territory, bringing slaves, should be entitled to their services. In 1852, California enacted that slaves which had been brought into that State when a Territory might be held as slaves and taken out of it; indeed, that the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act might be applied to them, that they might be arrested, and, when arrested, might be denied the privilege of testifying in their own behalf.

In the presence of results like these, a record so dark and indefensible, involving inconsistencies so flagrant, and recreancy to principle so marked, reflecting men could not but ask for some adequate cause; for they saw, as never before, that there must be some malignant and potent agency at work, that could accomplish such results and give such a character to the nation's history. They called it the Slave Power. Though it .had no “local habitation," it had a “name “that was a growing terror and alarm. They saw that there existed a commanding power in the land, which made its influence everywhere felt, by which all other influences were greatly modified, and before which all other interests were compelled in greater or less degree to bend. It was as if somewhere some imperious autocrat or secret conclave held court or council, in which slavery's every interest, necessity, and demand were considered and cared for, and from which were issued its stern and inexorable decrees. Committed to ready servitors, these decrees were executed with fearful fidelity, and at any cost, sacrifice, or hazard. As if endowed with a kind of omniscience, or served by agents always and. everywhere watchful, it seemed fully to comprehend whatever was needful for its purposes. As if conscious, too, of its essential vileness, and of the weakness which wickedness begets, it seemed always on the alert, lest someone should inflict injury, and it should suffer detriment from those forces of nature and Providence, of matter and mind, against which it seemed to be forever conscious of being at war. It snuffed danger from afar, and was eagle-eyed to detect whatever threatened injury or promised help. If it did not say, with Milton's fiend,--

''All good to me is lost;

Evil, be thou my good,"

It did seem to be oblivious of all distinctions of right and wrong, and indifferent to the moral character of any measure its necessities required. With vast resources at its command, with no scruples of conscience, and with none of the ordinary sensibilities of humanity, it sought to subordinate and subsidize everything to its behests. Patriotism, philanthropy, and piety were things of naught if they questioned its supremacy and came in competition or conflict with its exacting demands. It entered the conventions of parties and the councils of leaders, and dictated both the men and the measures they were allowed to support. It lorded it with almost unquestioned authority in the halls of legislation, while judges and juries, with hardly a show of independence, consulted its decrees in the opinions they gave and the verdicts they rendered. It forced its hateful presence into religious assemblies, and took its seat in the associations of churches and at the boards of missions. Editors wrote and clergymen preached in fear of its powers, and with no attempt to conceal their anxiety to propitiate its favor. It entered the precincts of learning, and, in the presence of all that is pure in science, profound in philosophy, and sacred in theology; surrounded, too, by the teachings of the ages, it proclaimed its great, gigantic lie, and subjected the teachers of those schools to the humiliating vassalage of accepting and advocating its unfounded pretensions.

Nor was its power exhausted on leaders. Its spirit permeated the masses. The people learned its sophistries and joined with alacrity in carrying out its hateful purposes. Men who never saw a slave lent their ready aid to keep him in chains, and, as if moved by a common inspiration, they joined in unreasoning hostility against all efforts to ameliorate his condition or secure his emancipation. Such was the Slave Power of America.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 181-189.


BLACKBURN, Gideon, 1772-1838, Kentucky, Virginia, clergyman, abolitionist, strong supporter of the American colonization Society.  Went to Illinois in 1833.  Assisted Elijah P. Lovejoy in organizing Illinois Anti-Slavery Society.  Founded Blackburn College at Carlinville, Illinois.  Established school for Cherokee Indians. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 91, 92, 135, 198-199; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 272; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 315; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 139)

BLACKBURN, Gideon, clergyman, b. in Augusta co., Va., 27 Aug., 1772; d. in Carlinville, Ill., 23 Aug., 1838. He was educated at Martin academy, Washington co., Tenn., licensed to preach by Abingdon presbytery in 1795, and settled many years at Marysville, Tenn. He was minister of Franklin, Tenn., in 1811-'3, and of Louisville, Ky., in 1823-'7. He passed the last forty years of his life in the western states, in preaching, organizing churches, and, from 1803 to 1809, during a part of each year, in his mission to the Cherokees, establishing a school at Hywassee. He established a school in Tennessee in 1806, and from 1827 till 1830 was president of Center college, Kentucky. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 272.


BLACKWELL, Antoinette Louisa, 1825-1921, abolitionist, reformer.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 274; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 319-320; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 82-83)

BLACKWELL, Antoinette Louisa Brown, author and minister, b. in Henrietta, Monroe co., N. Y., 20 May, 1825. When sixteen years old she taught school, and then, after attending Henrietta academy, went to Oberlin, where she was graduated in 1847. She spent her vacations in teaching and in the study of Hebrew and Greek. In the winter of 1844 she taught in the academy at Rochester, N. Y., where she delivered her first lecture. After graduation she entered upon a course of theological study at Oberlin, and completed it in 1850. When she asked for the license to preach, usually given to the theological students, it was refused; but she preached frequently on her own responsibility. The four years following her graduation were spent in study, preaching, and in lecturing on literary subjects, temperance, and the abolition of slavery. At the woman's rights convention in Worcester, Mass., in 1850, Miss Brown was one of the speakers, and she has since been prominent in the movement. In 1853 she was regularly ordained pastor of the orthodox Congregational church of South Butler and Savannah, Wayne co., N. Y., but gave up her charge in 1854 on account of ill health and doctrinal doubts. In 1855 she investigated the character and causes of vice in New York city, and published, in a New York journal, a series of sketches entitled “Shadows of our Social System.” In 1856 she married Samuel C. Blackwell, brother of Elizabeth Blackwell. They have six children, and now live in Elizabeth, N. J. Mrs. Blackwell still preaches occasionally, and has become a Unitarian. She is the author of “Studies in General Science” (New York, 1869); “The Market Woman”: “The Island Neighbors” (1871); “The Sexes Throughout Nature” (1875); and “The Physical Basis of Immortality” (1876). She has in preparation (1886) “The Many and the One.” Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 274.


BLACKWELL, Elizabeth, 1821-1910, Bristol, England, abolitionist, physician.

(Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp.274-275; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 230)

BLACKWELL, Elizabeth, physician, b. in Bristol, England, in 1821. Her father emigrated with his family in 1832, and settled in New York, but removed in 1838 to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he died a few months afterward, leaving a widow and nine children almost destitute. Elizabeth, then seventeen years old, opened a school in connection with two elder sisters, and conducted it successfully for several years. A friend now suggested that she should study medicine, and she resolved to become a physician. At first she pursued her studies in private, with some help from Dr. John Dixon, of Asheville, N. C., in whose family she was governess for a year. She then continued her studies in Charleston, S. C., supporting herself by teaching music, and after that in Philadelphia, under Dr. Allen and Dr. Warrington. She now made formal application to the medical schools of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston for admission as a student, but in each instance the request was denied, although several professors avowed interest in her undertaking. Rejecting advice to adopt an assumed name and male attire, she persevered in her attempt, and after several more refusals was finally admitted to the medical school at Geneva, N. Y., where she took her degree of M. D. in regular course in January, 1849. During her connection with the college, when not in attendance there upon lectures, she pursued a course of clinical study in Blockley hospital, Philadelphia. After graduation she went to Paris, and remained there six months, devoting herself to the study and practice of midwifery. The next autumn she was admitted as a physician to walk the hospital of St. Bartholomew in London, and after nearly a year spent there she returned to New York, and began practice in 1851. In 1854, with her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, she organized the New York infirmary for women and children. In 1859 she revisited England, and delivered in London and other cities a course of lectures on the necessity of medical education for women. In 1861, having returned to New York, she held, with Dr. Emily Blackwell, a meeting in the parlors of the infirmary, at which the first steps were taken toward organizing the women's central relief association for sending nurses and medical supplies for the wounded soldiers during the civil war. In 1867 the two sisters organized the women's medical college of the New York infirmary, in which Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell held the chair of hygiene and Dr. Emily Blackwell the chair of obstetrics and diseases of women. In 1869, leaving Dr. Emily in. charge of their joint work, Dr. Elizabeth returned to London and practised there for several years, taking an active part in organizing the women's medical college, in which she was elected professor of the diseases of women. She also took part in forming in England the national health society, and the society for repealing the contagious-diseases acts. Besides several health tracts, she has published “Laws of Life, or the Physical Education of Girls” (Philadelphia, 1852), and “Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education of their Children” (1879), which has been translated into French.


BLAIR, Montgomery, 1813-1883, statesman, attorney, jurist, abolitionist, Postmaster General of the United States, in Lincoln’s Cabinet.  Dismissed from position as Solicitor for the Court of Claims of the United States due to his anti-slavery positions.  Represented Dred Scott in famous fugitive slave case.

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 282; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 340)

BLAIR, Montgomery, statesman, b. in Franklin co., Ky., 10 May, 1813; d. in Silver Spring, Md., 27 July, 1883. He was a son of Francis P. Blair, Sr., was graduated at West Point in 1835, and, after serving in the Seminole war, resigned his commission on 20 May, 1836. He then studied law, and, after his admission to the bar in 1839, began practice in St. Louis. He was appointed U. S. district attorney for Missouri, and in 1842 was elected mayor of St. Louis. He was raised to the bench as judge of the court of common pleas in 1843, but resigned in 1849. He removed to Maryland in 1852, and in 1855 was appointed U. S. solicitor in the court of claims. He was removed from this office by President Buchanan in 1858, having left the democratic party on the repeal of the Missouri compromise. In 1857 he acted as counsel for the plaintiff in the celebrated Dred Scott case. He presided over the Maryland republican convention in 1860, and in 1861 was appointed postmaster-general by President Lincoln. It is said that he alone of Mr. Lincoln's cabinet opposed the surrender of Fort Sumter, and held his resignation upon the issue. As postmaster-general he prohibited the sending of disloyal papers through the mails, and introduced various reforms, such as money-orders, free delivery in cities, and postal railroad cars. In 1864 Mr. Blair, who was not altogether in accord with the policy of the administration, told the president that he would resign whenever the latter thought it necessary, and on 23 Sept. Mr. Lincoln, in a friendly letter, accepted his offer. After this Mr. Blair acted with the democratic party, and in 1876-'7 vigorously attacked Mr. Hayes's title to the office of president. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 282.


BLANCHARD, Jonathan, 1811-1892, clergyman, educator, abolitionist, theologian, lecturer.  Worked for more than thirty years for the abolition of slavery.  Member of the American Anti-Slavery Society.  President of Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, 1845-1858.  President, Illinois Institute.  Vice president, World Anti-Slavery Convention, London, England, 1843. 

(Bailey, J.W., Knox College, 1860;  Blanchard Papers, Wheaton College Library, Wheaton, Illinois; Blanchard Jonathan, and Rice, N.L. [1846], 1870; Dumond, 1961, p. 186; Kilby, 1959; Maas, 2003; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 196-197; Dictionary of American Biography, 1936, Vol. 1, pt. 2, pp. 350-351)


BLISS, Philemon, 1814-1889, lawyer, U.S. congressman, 1854, Chief Justice, Dakota Territory in 1861, elected Supreme Court of Missouri, 1868.  Helped found anti-slavery  Free Soil Party.  Agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS). 

(Blue, 2005, p. 76; Dumond, 1961, p. 165; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, pp. 375-376)


BLOW, Henry Taylor, 1817-1875, statesman, diplomat, capitalist.  Active in pre-Civil War anti-slavery movement.  Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1863-1867, voted for Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

(Appletons’, 1888, Vol. I, p. 297; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 391-329; Congressional Globe)

BLOW, Henry T., statesman, b. in Southampton co., Va., 15 July, 1817; d. in Saratoga, N. Y., 11 Sept., 1875. He went to Missouri in 1830, and was graduated at St. Louis university. He then engaged in the drug business and in lead-mining, in which he was successful. Before the civil war he took a prominent part in the anti-slavery movement, and served four years in the state senate. In 1861 he was appointed minister to Venezuela, but resigned in less than a year. He was a republican member of congress from 1863 till 1867, and served on the committee of ways and means. He was minister to Brazil from 1869 till 1871, and was appointed one of the commissioners of the District of Columbia in 1874. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 297.


BOOTH, Sherman M., 1812-1904, abolitionist, orator, politician, temperance activist.  Editor of anti-slavery newspaper, the Wisconsin Freeman, in Racine, Wisconsin.  Member, Free Soil Party, and helped found the Liberty Party.  Assisted runaway slave Joshua Glover.  Was arrested, tried and convicted for violation of Fugitive Slave Law.  Booth was acquitted under Wisconsin State law. (Blue, 2005, pp. 6-7, 13, 117-137, 267, 268; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 62, 151)



The Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society was formed October 1833 (1832?), disbanded 1840; newsletter, The Liberty Bell.  Associated with the American Anti-Slavery Society and the New England Anti-Slavery Society.  Had African American and White members.  Represented Evangelical Christian, Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational and liberal denominations, including Quaker and Unitarian. Founded by Anne Chapman, Caroline Weston Chapman, Deborah Chapman, and Maria Weston Chapman.

(Boylan, 1994; Chambers-Schiller, 1994; Dumond, 1961; Hansen, 1993; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 42, 199, 221, 288; Yellin, 1994, pp. 2, 8, 12-13, 26, 36, 37, 39, 42, 45-65, 120, 159-160, 170-176, 221, 257, 262, 263, 282-283, 285, 287, 289, 307, 316, 333)


BOUDINOT, Elias, 1740-1821, New Jersey, philanthropist, lawyer, Revolutionary statesman, U.S. Congressman, opponent of slavery.  Trustee of Princeton.  Former president of the Congress of Confederation.  Secretary of Foreign Affairs.  Supported right to petition Congress against slavery. (Basker, 2005, pp. 128, 133, 321, 322, 348, 350-351; Drake, 1950, pp. 85, 106; Dumond, 1961, p. 54; Locke, 1901, pp. 92, 93, 140; Staudenraus, 1961, pp. 16, 18, 25; Annals of Congress; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 327; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, pp. 477-478; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 243)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

BOUDINOT, Elias, philanthropist, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., 2 May, 1740; d. in Burlington, N. J., 24 Oct., 1821. His great-grandfather, Elias, was a French Huguenot, who fled to this country after the revocation of the edict of Nantes. After receiving a classical education, he studied law with Richard Stockton, and became eminent in his profession, practising in New Jersey. He was devoted to the patriot cause, in 1777 appointed commissary-general of prisoners, and in the same year elected a delegate to congress from New Jersey, serving from 1778 till 1779, and again from 1781 till 1784. He was chosen president of congress on 4 Nov., 1782, and in that capacity signed the treaty of peace with England. He then resumed the practice of law, but, after the adoption of the constitution, was elected to the 1st, 2d, and 3d congresses, serving from 4 March, 1789, till 3 March, 1795. He was appointed by Washington in 1795 to succeed Rittenhouse as director of the mint at Philadelphia, and held the office till July, 1805, when he resigned, and passed the rest of his life at Burlington, N. J., devoted to the study of biblical literature. He had an ample fortune, and gave liberally. He was a trustee of Princeton college, and in 1805 endowed it with a cabinet of natural history, valued at $3,000. In 1812 he was chosen a member of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions, to which he gave £100 in 1813. He assisted in founding the American Bible society in 1816, was its first president, and gave it $10,000. He was interested in attempts to educate the Indians, and when three Cherokee youth were brought to the foreign mission school in 1818, he allowed one of them to take his name. This boy became afterward a man of influence in his tribe, and was murdered on 10 June, 1839, by Indians west of the Mississippi. Dr. Boudinot was also interested in the instruction of deaf-mutes, the education of young men for the ministry, and efforts for the relief of the poor. He bequeathed his property to his only daughter, Mrs. Bradford, and to charitable uses. Among his bequests were one of $200 to buy spectacles for the aged poor, another of 13,000 acres of land to the mayor and corporation of Philadelphia, that the poor might be supplied with wood at low prices, and another of 3,000 acres to the Philadelphia hospital for the benefit of foreigners. Dr. Boudinot published “The Age of Revelation,” a reply to Paine (1790); an oration before the Society of the Cincinnati (1793); “Second Advent of the Messiah” (Trenton 1815); and “Star in the West or An Attempt to Discover the Long-lost Tribes of Israel” (1816), in which he concurs with James Adair in the opinion that the Indians are the lost tribes. He also wrote, in “The Evangelical Intelligencer” of 1806, an anonymous memoir of the  Rev. William Tennet, D. D. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 327.

Biography from National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans:

As the most tranquil and prosperous periods of a nation afford but scanty materials for the historian, so it frequently happens that men eminent for their morality and virtue, and whose lives have been past in continual acts of beneficence, leave only meagre details for the instruction and example of others. The progress of professional or literary talent contains little of interest, except it is traced by the hand of one who can follow all its windings, and give us feelings as well as facts,—and the deeds of goodness which endear a man to society are done in secret, or known but to few, so that he whose death leaves the greatest void in his immediate circle is often the most speedily forgotten.

ELIAS BOUDINOT was born in Philadelphia, in the year 1740. His family was of French extraction, his great grandfather being one of the many protestants compelled to leave their country on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. His father’s name was likewise Elias; his mother, Catharine Williams, was of Welsh descent. Young BOUDINOT received a classical education, such as was at that time common in the colonies, after which he pursued the study of the law under Richard Stockton. At the termination of his studies, entering upon the practice of his profession in New Jersey, he soon became distinguished. At the commencement of the difficulties between the colonies and the mother country, he advocated the cause of the Americans, and when hostilities had actually commenced took a decided part in favor of the colonists. In 1777, congress appointed him commissary general of prisoners, and in the same year he was elected a member of that body. In November, 1782, he was elected president of congress, and in that capacity signed the treaty of peace which was soon afterwards concluded. He now resumed the practice of the law, but in 1789, on the adoption of the Federal Constitution he was again elected a member of congress, and occupied his seat by successive reëlections for six years. In 1796, he was appointed by Washington to succeed Rittenhouse as director of the mint; in this office he continued until 1805, when resigning all public employment he retired to Burlington, N. J. The remainder of his life BOUDINOT passed in attending to the affairs of his estate, in the study of biblical literature, which was always one of his favorite pursuits, and in the exercise of a munificent charity, both private and public. He was a trustee of Princeton college, and in 1805, founded in it a cabinet of natural history at the cost of three thousand dollars. In 1812, he was elected a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to which he presented a donation of one hundred pounds sterling. He was active in promoting the formation of the American Bible Society, and in 1816, being elected its first president, he made it the munificent donation of ten thousand dollars. After a long life of usefulness Mr. BOUDINOT died on the twenty-fourth of October, 1821, in the eighty-second year of his age; a sincere and devout christian, his death bed was cheered by that religion which had guided him through life. He knew that his end approached, but he was prepared and ready to meet it, and his last prayer was, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Mr. BOUDINOT married in early life the sister of his preceptor, Richard Stockton; by whom he had an only daughter, who survives him. Mrs. Boudinot died in 1808.

In his last will, after having suitably provided for his daughter, BOUDINOT bequeathed the bulk of his large property for the furtherance of those objects which he had so steadily pursued through life: the diffusion of religion, the promotion of literature, and the alleviation of the distresses of the poor. Four thousand acres of land were left to the Society for the Benefit of the Jews; five thousand dollars to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church; four thousand and eighty acres for theological students at Princeton; four thousand acres to the college of New Jersey for the establishment of fellowships; three thousand two hundred and seventy acres to the Hospital of Philadelphia; thirteen thousand acres to the mayor and corporation of Philadelphia for the supply of the poor with wood on low terms; besides, numerous other bequests for religious and charitable purposes. Mr. BOUDINOT is the author of several publications, the principal of which is the “Star in the West, or an attempt to discover the long lost tribes of Israel, preparatory to their return to their beloved city of Jerusalem,” 8vo., 1816; in which he endeavors to prove that the American Indians are the lost tribes. The work exhibits great benevolence of feeling towards the Indians, extensive research, and considerable acuteness, yet it is to be regretted that his time and talents were wasted upon a subject so ill calculated to reward his labor.

Source: National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, 1839, Vol. 3.


BOURNE, George, 1780-1845, New York City.  Author.  Presbyterian and Dutch Reform clergyman. Pioneer abolitionist leader.  Manager (1833-1839) and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Wrote The Book of Slavery Irreconcilable (1816); An Address to the Presbyterian Church, Enforcing the Duty of Excluding all Slaveholders from the Communion of Saints; and Man Stealing and Slavery Denounced by the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 93, 175, 348; Mason, 2006, pp. 79, 100, 132-133, 231-232, 285n75; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 34, 105; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 330; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, p. 485; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 254)

BOURNE, George, author, b. in England about 1760; d. in New York city in 1845. He was educated in his native country, emigrated to the United States, and became a minister of the reformed Dutch church in 1833. He held no pastorate, but engaged in literary work in New York city. He was an ardent and learned controversialist, and wrote works on Romanism and slavery. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 330.


BOWDITCH, Henry Ingersoll, 1819-1909, Boston, lawyer, abolitionist, physician.  Influenced by William Lloyd Garrison to join the anti-slavery cause.  Aided fugitive slaves, and promoted anti-slavery actions in the North.  Counsellor, 1843-1850, and Vice president, 1850-1860, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. 

(Mabee, 1970, pp. 36, 94, 103, 110, 129, 336; Pease, 1965, pp. 343-348; Bowditch, Slavery and the Constitution, Boston: Robert F. Walcutt, 1849, pp. 120-126; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, pp. 492-494; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985, pp. 103-104; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 2, p. 267; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 334)

BOWDITCH, Henry Ingersoll, physician, b. in Salem, Mass., 9 Aug., 1808, was graduated at Harvard in 1828, took his medical degree there in 1832, and studied in Paris from 1833 to 1835. He was professor of clinical medicine at Harvard from 1859 till 1867, chairman of the state board of health (1869-'79), and member of the national board in the latter year, surgeon of enrollment during the civil war, president of the American medical association in 1877, and physician at the Massachusetts general hospital and the Boston city hospital, where he served from 1868 to 1872. To Dr. Bowditch is due the discovery of the law of soil moisture as a potent cause of consumption in New England. He has also proved to the medical profession of this country and Europe that thoracentesis, in pleural effusions, if performed with Wyman's fine trocars and suction-pump, is not only innocuous; but at times saves life or gives great relief. Dr. Bowditch was made an abolitionist by the mobbing of Garrison in 1835, and worked earnestly in the anti-slavery cause. “He was the first in Boston,” says Frederick Douglas, “to treat me as a man.” He is the author of “Life of Nathaniel Bowditch, for the Young” (1841); “The Young Stethoscopist” (Boston, 1846; 2d ed., New York, 1848); “Life of Lieutenant Nathaniel Bowditch” (50 copies, printed privately, 1865); “Public Hygiene in America,” a centennial address at Philadelphia in 1876, and many articles in medical journals and papers read before the State board of health (1870-'8). He has translated “Louis on Typhoid” (2 vols., Boston, 1836); “Louis on Phthisis” (1836); and “Maunoir on Cataract” (1837). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 334.


BRADBURN, George, 1806-1880, Nantucket, Massachusetts, politician, US Congressman representing the Free Soil Party, newspaper editor, Unitarian clergyman, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, lecturer.  Member, American Anti-Slavery Society.  Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Vice-President, 1840-1845.  Attended World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in June 1840, where he protested the exclusion of women from the conference.  Lectured for the American Anti-Slavery Society with fellow abolitionists William A. White and Frederick Douglass in 1843.  Editor, the Pioneer and Herald of Freedom from 1846 to 1849 in Lynn, Massachusetts. (Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 345)


BRADFORD, William, 1663-1752, Leicester, England, Society of Friends, Quaker, printed first anti-slavery publication in the colony in 1693, titled “An Exhortation and Caution to Friends Concerning Buying or Keeping of Negroes” (Drake, 1950, p. 14; Soderlund, 1985, p. 194; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 350; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, pp. 463)

BRADFORD, William, printer, b. in Leicester, England, in 1658; d. in New York, 23 May, 1752. He was one of the Quakers brought over by Penn in 1682, who founded in the midst of the forest the town of Philadelphia. In 1685 he set up his printing-press, the first one south of New England, and the third one in the colonies. The same year he issued the “Kalendarium Pennsilvaniense” for 1686. In 1690 he joined with two others in building a paper-mill on the Schuylkill. Among his earliest publications were Keith's polemical tracts against the New England churches. In 1691, having sided with Keith in his quarrel with the authorities, and printed his “Appeal to the People,” and other tracts on his side of the controversy, Bradford was arrested for seditious libel, and his press, forms, materials, and publications were confiscated. He was tried on the charge of having printed a paper tending to weaken the hands of the magistrates, but, conducting his own case with shrewdness and skill, escaped punishment through the disagreement of the jury. In his defence he contended, in opposition to the ruling of the court directing the jury to find only as to the facts of the printing, that the jurors were judges of the law as well as of the fact, and competent to determine whether the subject-matter was seditious, a point that, in after times, was much controverted in similar cases. Having incurred the displeasure of the dominant party in Philadelphia, and receiving an invitation to establish a printing-press in New York, he settled there in 1693, set up the first press in the province, and the same year printed the laws of the colony. He was appointed public printer with an allowance of £50 per annum, and also received the appointment of printer to the government of New Jersey. He retained an interest in the press in Philadelphia, which was managed by a Dutchman named Jansen until Bradford's eldest son, Andrew, took charge of it in 1712, and obtained the appointment of public printer. On 16 Oct., 1725, William Bradford began the publication of the “New York Gazette,” the fourth newspaper in the colonies, and in 1728 he established a paper-mill at Elizabethtown, N. J. He was the only printer in the colony for thirty years, and retained the office of public printer for more than fifty years. He is buried in Trinity church-yard. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 350.


BRADLEY, Stephan Row, 1754-1830, jurist, Member of Congress, U.S. Senator, New Jersey, opposed slavery in U.S. Congress (Appletons’, 1888, Vol. 1, p.353; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, pp. 575-576; Locke, 1901, pp. 94, 149f; Annals of Congress)

BRADLEY, Stephen Row, senator, b. in Wallingford (now Cheshire), Conn., 20 Oct., 1754; d. in Walpole, N. H., 16 Dec., 1830. He was graduated at Yale in 1775, studied law under Judge Reeve, and was admitted to the bar in 1779. During the revolutionary war he commanded a company of the Cheshire volunteers, and was the aide of Gen. Wooster when that officer was killed at Danbury. In 1779 he settled in Vermont and became active in the organization of the state. He was one of its first senators, being elected as a democrat to the 2d, 3d, and 7th, to 12th congresses, and was president pro tem. during portions of the 7th and 10th congresses. He was the author of “Vermont's Appeal” (1779), which has been ascribed.  Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 353.


BRAINERD, Lawrence, 1794-1870, anti-slavery activist, capitalist, statesman, U.S. Senator, member of the Liberty and Free Soil Parties, co-founder of the Republican Party.  Manager, American Anti-Slavery Society, 1833-1839. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 358; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. I, Pt. 2, p. 594)

BRAINERD, Lawrence, senator, b. in 1794; d. in St. Albans, Vt., 9 May, 1870. He was active in forwarding the political, commercial, and railroad interests of Vermont, and was for several years candidate for governor. After the death of Senator Upham, Mr. Brainerd was chosen to the senate as a free-soiler for the remainder of the term, serving from 5 Dec., 1854, till 3 March, 1855. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 358.


BRANAGAN, Thomas, former slaveholder in West Indies, wrote anti-slavery book in the United States.  Wrote, The Penitential Tyrant; or, Slave Trader Reformed: A Pathetic Poem, and A Preliminary Essay on the Exiled Sons of Africa Consisting of Animadversions on the Impolicy and Barbarity of the Deleterious Commerce and Subsequent Slavery of the Human Species (1801). 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 45, 80; Mason, 2006, pp. 26, 248n111; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 30-31)


BRECKINRIDGE, Robert Jefferson, 1800-1871, Kentucky, lawyer, clergyman, state legislator, anti-slavery activist.  Supported gradual emancipation.  Opponent of slavery and important advocate for colonization and the American Colonization Society (ACS).  He argued emancipation was the goal of African colonization and it was justified.  He worked with ACS agent Robert S. Finley to establish auxiliaries. 

(Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 10; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 144-145, 183, 231)




BRISBANE, William Henry, 1803-1878, South Carolina, abolitionist leader.  Executive Committee of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.  Clergyman, Baptist Church in Madison, Wisconsin.  Chief Clerk of the Wisconsin State Senate.  He inherited slaves, however he realized slavery was wrong.  In 1835, Brisbane freed 33 of his slaves, bringing them to the North where he helped them settle.  As a result, he was criticized by his family and friends.  He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for the abolitionist cause.

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 93, 286; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 378)

BRISBANE, William H., clergyman, b. about 1803; d. in Arena, Wis., in 1878. He inherited a large number of slaves, but became convinced that slavery was wrong, and in 1835 brought thirty-three of them to the north, manumitting them and aiding them to settle in life. In consequence of this, he was obliged to take rank among the poor men of the country. Making his home in Cincinnati, he became the associate of prominent abolitionists, and a constant worker in their cause. In the early days of the anti-slavery agitation he was among its foremost advocates. In 1855 he removed to Wisconsin, was chief clerk of the state senate in 1857, became pastor of the Baptist church in Madison, and early in the civil war was tax commissioner of South Carolina. In June, 1874, he took an active part in the reunion of the old abolition guards in Chicago. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 378.


BRODESS, Henry Bishop, 1830-1881, Ashland, Kentucky, abolitionist, mayor, jurist, newspaper publisher.  Published anti-slavery newspaper, the American Union.  Served as an officer in the Fourteenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.


BROOKE, Abraham, 1806(8?)-1867, physician, radical reformer, abolitionist, Quaker, from Maryland, later moved to Ohio.  Strong supporter of William Lloyd Garrison and immediate abolition of slavery in the U.S.  Leader in Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS).  Organized the Society for Universal Inquiry and Reform in October 1842.  Active supporter of women’s rights.  Leader in Western Anti-Slavery Society. 

(American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3, p. 602)


BROOKS, Joseph, 1821-1877, abolitionist, clergyman, newspaper editor, Union Army chaplain, political leader.  In 1856, moved to St. Louis and was editor of the Central Christian Advocate, a Methodist anti-slavery newspaper.  He was an ardent abolitionist and supporter of women’s suffrage.  In 1863, Brooks recruited and organized African American regiments.  He was appointed Chaplain of Fifty-Sixth U. S. Colored Infantry. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 387)

BROOKS, Joseph, clergyman, b. in Butler co., Ohio, 1 Nov., 1821; d. in Little Rock, Ark., 30 April, 1877. He was graduated at Indiana Asbury university, and in 1840 entered the Methodist ministry. He removed to Iowa in 1846, and in 1856 became editor of the St. Louis “Central Christian Advocate,” the only anti-slavery paper published on slave soil west of the Mississippi. When the civil war began, he became chaplain of the 1st Missouri artillery, Col. Frank P. Blair's regiment. He afterward aided in raising the 11th and 33d Missouri regiments, and was transferred to the latter as chaplain. Early in the war Mr. Brooks urged the enlistment of colored troops, and, when it was decided to employ them, he was offered a major-general's commission if he would raise a division, but he declined. He afterward became chaplain of the 3d Arkansas colored infantry. After the war Mr. Brooks became a planter in Arkansas, and was a leader in the State constitutional convention of 1868. During the presidential canvass of that year an attempt was made to assassinate Mr. Brooks and Congressman C. C. Hines, which resulted in the death of the latter and the wounding of Mr. Brooks. He removed to Little Rock in the autumn of 1868, and was elected state senator in 1870. In 1872 he was a candidate for governor, and, when his opponent was declared to be elected by the legislature, he claimed that the election was fraudulent, and, relying on the decision of a state court in his favor, took forcible possession of the state-house, 13 April, 1874, and held it till dispossessed by proclamation of President Grant, 23 May, 1874. (See BAXTER, ELISHA.) Mr. Brooks was appointed postmaster at Little Rock in March, 1875, and held the office till his death. He was a man of great will-power and a strong speaker. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888.



See also Sumner, Charles

Chapter: “Assault On Sumner,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

The spring of 1856 had opened gloomily. The Kansas-Nebraska legislation was bringing forth its legitimate fruits. Emboldened by their success, the slavery propagandists pressed on with vigor, resolved that no obstacles should prevent the realization of their cherished purposes. In Kansas the friends of freedom found that the pretended proffer of popular sovereignty was a delusion, and they were at once precipitated into a hand-to-hand conflict. Treason was on many lips, and the cry of secession not only rung in the halls of Congress, but resounded throughout the South. Dis trusting, too, their ability to meet their opponents in the fair field of debate, the advocates of slavery resolved to resort to something more potent than words. If they could not rebut the speech, they could intimidate and overpower the speaker, and the bludgeon be made to accomplish what fair argument could not effect. The border-ruffian policy, which was filling Kansas with alarm and bloodshed, had its representatives in Washington, walking its streets, hanging around its hotels, and stalking through the capitol. To the extreme arrogance of imbittered and aggressive words were added the menace and actual infliction of personal violence. Indeed, the course of these men assumed the form of a reckless and relentless audacity never before exhibited. Members of Congress went armed in the streets, and sat with loaded revolvers in their desks.

It was in this state of popular feeling and during the debate on Kansas affairs that Mr. Sumner delivered, on the 19th and 20th of May, his speech on “The Crime against Kansas." It was marked by the usual characteristics of his more elaborate efforts, exhibiting great affluence of learning, faithful research, and great rhetorical finish and force. It was, in the words of the poet Whittier, " a grand and terrible philippic, worthy of the great occasion; the severe and awful truth, which the sharp agony of the national crisis demanded." The speech bore the marks of a determined purpose to make it exhaustive and complete; as impregnable in argument and cogent in rhetoric as it could be made by the materials at his command, and by the author's acknowledged ability to use them. He summoned largely to his aid the power of language, and his “words " became “things."

He divided his subject into " three different heads: THE CRIME AGAINST KANSAS in its origin and extent; THE APOLOGIES FOR THE CRIME; and THE TRUE REMEDY." Concerning the crime itself, he adduced the most incontrovertible proofs of its existence, and closed by comparing Kansas to a "gallant ship, voyaging on a pleasant summer sea, assailed by a pirate crew." " Even now," he said, " the black flag of the land pirates of Missouri waves at the masthead ; in their laws you hear the pirate yell and see the flash of the pirate knife ; while, incredible to relate, the President, gathering the Slave Power at his back, testifies a pirate sympathy." He said the apologies were four in number: the apology “tyrannical," the apology “imbecile," the apology “absurd," and the apology "infamous." “This is all," he said. “Tyranny, imbecility, absurdity, and infamy all unite to dance, like the weird sisters, about this crime." Concerning the remedies, he said they, too, were “four-fold”: the remedy of “tyranny," of “folly," of "injustice and civil war," of "justice and peace." “These are the four caskets," he said, " and you are to deter mine which shall be opened by Senatorial votes." Having discussed these points with great fulness and cogency, he thus closed: " The contest, which, beginning in Kansas, reaches us, will be transferred soon from Congress to that broader stage where every citizen is not only spectator, but actor; and to their judgment I confidently turn In the name of the Constitution outraged, of the laws trampled down, of humanity degraded, of peace destroyed, of freedom crushed to earth, and in the name of the Heavenly Father, whose service is perfect freedom, I make this last appeal."

Portraying the crime, he referred to the criminal, fitly spoke of the tyrant power who inspired it, and of the more prominent agents in its commission. Alluding to a fable of Northern mythology, he said: " Even so the creature whose paws are fastened upon Kansas, whatever it may seem to be, constitutes in reality part of the Slave Power, which, with loathsome folds, is now coiled about the whole land."

Of several of the agents of this power he had more than general reasons to speak severely. Among them were Mr. Butler and Mr. Douglas, who had singled him out for special attack. In this speech, therefore, he took occasion to repay them for their assaults, and proposed to say "something in reference to what has fallen from Senators who have raised themselves to eminence on this floor in championship of human wrongs. I mean the Senator from South Carolina, and the Senator from Illinois, who, though unlike as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, yet, like this couple, sally forth in the same adventure." Of the former he spoke as " one applying opprobrious epithets to those who differ from him on this floor, calling them ' sectional ' and ' fanatical,' and their opposition to the usurpations in Kansas ' an uncalculating fanaticism! ' : Of the latter he said: " The Senator dreams that he can subdue the North. He disclaims the open threat; but his conduct implies it. How little that Senator knows himself, or the strength of the cause he persecutes! He is but a mortal man; but against him is an immortal principle. With finite strength he wrestles with the infinite, and he must fail; against him are stronger battalions than any marshalled by mortal arm, -- the inborn, ineradicable, and invincible sentiments of the human heart; against him is Nature in all its subtle forces; against him is God. Let him try to subdue these."

A speech so bold and unsparing in its utterances, so thorough and fundamental in its logic, in which things were called by their right names, and which applied the tests of Republican and Christian principles so severely to the vexed question, while, at the same time, it administered to some of the haughty and dogmatic leaders that severe rebuke their insolence deserved, could not fail, in the excited state of the public mind, to produce a profound impression. Men whose course had been subjected to this terrible arraignment were excited to madness; and summary vengeance was agreed upon as the only remedy that would meet the exigency of the hour.

Preston S. Brooks, a Representative from South Carolina, either volunteered or was selected as the agent for its infliction. After the adjournment of the Senate on the 22d of May, Mr. Sumner remained at his desk, engaged in writing. While so engaged, Brooks, whom he did not know, approached him, and said: “I have read your speech twice over, carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." While these words were passing from his lips, he commenced a series of blows with a bludgeon upon the Senator's head, by which the latter was stunned, disabled, and smitten down, bleeding and insensible, on the floor of the chamber. From that floor he was taken by friends, borne to the anteroom, where his wounds were dressed, and then he was carried by Mr. Wilson, assisted by Representative Buffinton, of the House, faint and bleeding, to his lodgings. The injuries of Mr. Sumner were serious, and became the occasion of constant anxiety to his friends. He was first treated at Washington, afterward successively at Philadelphia, Boston, and Paris, making two voyages to Europe, where he submitted himself to treatment at the hands of Dr. Brown Sequard. It was four years before he was pronounced convalescent, during the most of which time his vacant chair in the Senate Chamber proclaimed, with a more pregnant eloquence than that of his own well-chosen words, the “barbarism of slavery."

This cowardly and audacious assault deeply moved the public mind, not only at Washington, but throughout the country, though the personal participants therein, the criminal and his victim, were very much lost sight of in the moral and political significance of the act. For the moment, Sumner and Brooks were regarded mainly as representative men, exponents of the two civilizations which divided the country, while the scenes of the 22d of May on the floor of the Senate were looked upon as typical of what was being enacted on the wider theatre of the nation. Mr. Sumner, though confessedly the superior of his assailant in stature and physical strength, sitting and cramped beneath his writing-desk, over which he was bending, with pen in hand, taken unawares and at disadvantage, and his assailant raining blows upon his unprotected head, fairly represented freedom and slavery as they stood at that time confronting each other. Freedom, though intrinsically stronger than its antagonist, was yet practically weaker. So hampered by the compromises of the Constitution, by the legislation of two generations, by proscription and prescription, and by the overpowering advantage which actual possession gave to slavery, it had been obliged to succumb to its imperious antagonist, beside suffering in finite damage thereby. This blow at free speech, and personal safety as well, like a flash of lightning in a dark and stormy night, revealed by its lurid glare the grim facts of the situation, and the people, for good reason, trembled as they gazed apprehensively into the immediate and more remote future.

In the evening of the day of the assault, the Republican Senators met at the house of Mr. Seward. In a lean minority -- only one fifth of the Senate -- they knew that they were at the mercy of the majority, which was dominated by the incensed and inexorable leaders of the Slave Power, who, always bitter and implacable, were now still more determined and audacious; always zealous, their zeal was more inflamed by the fresh fuel these proceedings would add. What new victims would be required, who they should be, and whom their appetite for vengeance, whetted by this taste of blood, would select, they knew not. Not unlikely some who gathered there, like the disciples of John the Baptist, after their master had fallen a victim to a tyrant's power, felt that, though the night was dark and the future was forbidding, it was no time to despair or to remit effort. Nor would they, without remonstrance, submit to such an invasion of their personal and political rights. It was accordingly agreed that Mr. Wilson should call the attention of the Senate to the subject the next day, and, unless some member of the dominant party should move a committee of investigation, Mr. Seward should make such motion.

On the assembling of the Senate, amid deep excitement, crowds filling every available space in the chamber and all its approaches, Mr. Wilson rose, and, having narrated briefly the facts of the transaction, said : " Sir, to assail a member of the Senate out of this chamber  for words spoken in debate 'is a grave offence, not only against the rights of a Senator, but the constitutional privileges of this House; but, sir, to come into this chamber and assault a member in his seat, until he falls exhausted and senseless on this floor, is an offence requiring the prompt and decisive action of the Senate. Senators, I have called your attention to this transaction. I submit no motion. I leave it to older Senators, whose character, whose position in this body and before the country, eminently fit them for the task of devising measures to redress the wrongs of a member of this body and to vindicate the honor and dignity of the Senate."

As no Democratic Senator proposed any action, Mr. Seward offered a resolution for a committee of five members, to be appointed by the President, to inquire into the assault, and to report the facts, together with their opinion thereon. On motion of Mr. Mason, the resolution was so amended as to provide that the committee should be chosen by the Senate; and Pearce of Maryland, Cass of Michigan, Dodge of Wisconsin, Allen of Rhode Island, and Geyer of Missouri, were selected. The committee was chosen wholly from the Democratic Party and contained no one friendly to Mr. Sumner. The same day, Lewis D. Campbell introduced a resolution into the House of Representatives reciting the particulars of the assault, and proposing a select committee of five to report such action as might be proper for the vindication of the House. After a brief debate, the resolution was adopted, and Campbell of Ohio, Pennington of New Jersey, Spinner of New York, Cobb of Georgia, and Greenwood of Arkansas, were appointed.

This assault upon Mr. Sumner was, however, chiefly noticeable for its related facts and subsequent developments. Standing alone, it was but one of many outrages which have disfigured and disgraced human history, as indefensible as they were full of pain and peril, -- one good man suffering at the hands of a bad man from the impulse of passion or the greed of gain. But, standing as it does in its relations to the irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery, it was a revelation of a state of public feeling and sentiment, especially at the South, which both startled and surprised the nation and the world; though it has since lost much of its special significance, looked at by the side of the more horrible demonstrations of rebellion and civil war. Thus considered, it shows Mr. Brooks as only a fit representative of the dominating influences of the slaveholding States, where not only did their leading public men and presses indorse the deed as their own, and defend it by voice and vote, but the people generally seemed ready to vie with each other in their pro fessed admiration of his course, so that the bludgeon became the weapon of honor, the bully the hero of the hour.

Its committee reporting want of jurisdiction, because, it contended, "authority devolves solely upon the House, of which he is a member," the Senate itself took no further action. But the House committee entered at once upon the investigation, and proceeded to examine the witnesses of the transaction. Visiting Mr. Sumner at his room, they took his deposition from his sick-bed. He made substantially the same statement already given, mentioning the additional fact that on coming to consciousness he saw “Mr. Douglas and Mr. Toombs standing in the Senate," and Mr. Slidell in the anteroom, from which the latter “retreated at once." This statement becoming known, these Senators felt called upon to make explanations of their knowledge of the affair and of the course they adopted in relation to it. Mr. Slidell, referring to the fact that he was conversing with other Senators, among whom was Mr. Douglas, when a messenger rushed in with the intelligence that somebody was beating Mr. Sumner, contemptuously said: “We heard this remark without any particular emotion. For my part, I confess I felt none. I am not disposed to participate in broils of any kind. I remained very quietly in my seat. The other gentleman did the same. We did not move." He stated that, a few minutes afterward, he went into the Senate chamber, and was told that Mr. Sumner was lying in a state of insensibility. Returning to the anteroom, and attempting to pass out, he saw the wounded man as he was carried into the anteroom, “his face covered with blood, and evidently faint and weak." “I am not," said Mr. Slidell, “particularly fond of scenes of any sort. I have no associations or relations of any kind with Mr. Sumner. I have not spoken to him for two years. I did not think it necessary to express any sympathy or make any advances toward him." Slidell closed his remarks by saying he was free from any participation, connection, or counsel in the matter.

Douglas, too, deemed it his duty to make some explanation. He said that, when the messenger passed through the room and said somebody was beating Mr. Sumner, “I rose immediately to my feet. My first impulse was to come into the Senate chamber, and help to put an end to the affray, if I could. But it occurred to my mind in an instant that my relations to Mr. Sumner were such that, if I came into the hall, my motives would be misconstrued perhaps; and I sat down again." He stated that a few moments afterward he went into the Senate chamber, and saw the crowd gathering about Mr. Sumner, who was prostrate on the floor. He closed his remarks by stating he did not know that he was in the capitol; that he did not know that any man thought of attacking him, and that he had not the slightest suspicion of what was to happen.

Mr. Toombs said: “As for rendering Mr. Sumner any assistance, I did not do it. As to what was said, some gentle man present condemned it in Mr. Brooks. I stated to him, or to some of my own friends, probably, that I approved it. That is my opinion." It was also given in evidence that Mr. Keitt was present at the assault, not only consenting to the action of his colleague, but with violent demonstrations and profane expressions warning off all who would interfere to save the victim from his assailant.

 Of course, Northern men could not remain unmoved by such admitted complicity with and indorsement of an outrage like that. Mr. Wade said: “It is impossible for me to sit still and hear the principle announced which I have heard on this occasion. I am here in a pretty bare minority; but when I hear, on the floor of the Senate, that an assassin-like, cowardly attack has been made on a man unarmed, having no power to defend himself, who was stricken down with the strong arm and almost murdered, and that such attacks are approved of by Senators, it becomes a question of some interest to us all, and especially to those who are in the minority. A brave man may be overpowered by numbers on this floor; but, sir, overpowered or not, live or die, I will vindicate the right and liberty of debate and freedom of discussion upon this floor so long as I live."

Mr. Wilson remarked that there was no conflict between the statements of Mr. Sumner and those of Slidell, Douglas, and Toombs. The assault itself he pronounced “brutal, murderous, and cowardly." This provoked the exclamation “You are a liar!” from Mr. Butler; although, at the request of Senators, he immediately withdrew the words. The charge of Mr. Wilson led to a challenge from Mr. Brooks, which was borne to him by General Lane of Oregon, afterward Democratic candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Mr. Wilson, against the urgent advice of Mr. Giddings, Mr. Colfax, and other friends, immediately returned this reply : "

I characterized, on the floor of the Senate, the assault upon my colleague as brutal, murderous, and cowardly.' I thought so then. I think so now. I have no qualification whatever to make in regard to those words. I have never entertained, in the Senate or elsewhere, the idea of personal responsibility in the sense of the duellist. I have always regarded duelling as the lingering relic of a barbarous civilization, which the law of the country has branded as crime. While, therefore, I religiously believe in the right of self defence in its broadest sense, the law of my country and the matured convictions of my whole life alike forbid me to meet you for the purpose indicated in your letter."

Having sent this reply by James Buffinton, a member of the House from his State, Mr. Wilson telegraphed to his wife, then in Massachusetts: “Have declined to fight a duel, shall do my duty and leave the result with God. If assailed, shall defend my life, if possible, at any cost. Be calm." Writing a hurried note to his friends, William Claflin, afterward governor of Massachusetts, and John B. Alley, subsequently for several years a member of Congress, to befriend his son, then only ten years of age, if he should be struck down by violence, Mr. Wilson armed himself for defence, resolved to go where duty called. At once a meeting was held at the National Hotel by a few Southern members, and the question of making an as sault upon him considered; and actual violence was prevented mainly by the efforts of Mr. Orr of South Carolina, as he informed Mr. Wilson in the winter of 1873, when on his way to Russia as Minister of the United States.

The House committee made two reports; the majority recommending the expulsion of Mr. Brooks, and expressing “disapprobation of the act of Henry A. Edmonson and Lawrence M. Keitt." The minority pleaded want of jurisdiction; and sixty members sustained that position. The House censured Keitt, but failed to condemn Edmonson. Keitt resigned. One hundred and twenty-one members voted to expel Brooks and ninety-five voted against expulsion. Having failed to expel, -- a two-thirds vote being necessary,-- a vote of censure was adopted by a large majority.

After these votes were declared, Mr. Brooks addressed the House in a speech of mingled assumption, insolence, and self-conceit. While disclaiming all intention to insult Congress, the Senate, or the State of Massachusetts, he seemed to be utterly oblivious that there had been any infringement of law or the rights of others; it being simply, he said, “a personal affair, for which I am personally responsible." With infinite effrontery he affirmed: "I went to work very deliberately, as I am charged, and this is admitted, and speculated somewhat as to whether I should employ a horsewhip or a cowhide; but, knowing that the Senator was my superior in strength, it occurred to me that he might wrest it from my hand, and then (for I never attempt anything I do not perform) I might have been compelled to do that which I would have regretted the balance of my natural life." What that contingency he so coolly admitted was every reader can conjecture. With still greater assurance and self-assertion, he claimed, as a matter of credit for his forbearance, that he had not plunged the nation into civil war, as if he had held the destinies of the Republic in his hands. “In my heart of hearts," he said,” such a menacing line of conduct I believe would end in sub verting this government and drenching this hall in blood. No act of mine, on my personal account, shall inaugurate revolution; but when you, Mr. Speaker, return to your own home, and hear the people of the great North and they are great people speak of me as a bad man, you will do me the justice to say that a blow struck by me at this time would be followed by a revolution; and this I know." Concluding his speech, he announced the resignation of his seat, and walked out of the House. He returned to his constituents, was triumphantly re-elected, in about two weeks went back with his commission of re-election, and again took his seat.

But the most significant and instructive incidents and utterances remain to be noted. Much of what has already been adduced might be safely referred to passion, wounded feeling, and inflamed hatred. The language of Slidell, Doug las, Toombs, and Brooks was evidently spoken in hot blood, and the votes of Mr. Brooks’s constituents were cast in obedience to feelings that had been roused to the highest pitch of imbittered and vengeful indignation. No adequate conception of the state of public sentiment and feeling then existing can be found without reference to the cooler and more deliberate expressions of public men and presses outside of the narrow circle of the immediate actors in this tragedy of violence and blood. Unfortunately the evidence is far too conclusive to leave any doubt as to the anarchical sentiments that prevailed too generally at the South and far too largely, indeed, at the North.

Referring to a meeting of Brooks’s constituents, at which resolutions of approval were adopted, and a cane, with a brutal inscription, voted him, a paper published at the capital of his State remarked: " Meetings of approval and sanction will be held not only in Mr. Brooks's district, but throughout the State at large, and a general and hearty response of approval will re-echo the words ' Well done! ' from Washington to the Rio Grande." The students and officers of the University of Virginia also voted him a cane, on which the leading Democratic organ of the South remarked approvingly: "The chivalry of the South, it seems, has been thoroughly aroused." The Richmond “Examiner " said : " Far from blaming Mr. Brooks, we are disposed to regard him as a conservative gentleman, seeking to restore its lost dignity to the Senate, ....whose example should be followed by every Southern gentleman whose feelings are outraged by unprincipled Abolitionists." The Richmond “Enquirer," some weeks after the assault, said: “In the main, the press of the South applaud the conduct of Mr. Brooks, without condition or limitation. Our approbation, at least, is entire and unreserved… It was a proper act, done at the proper time and in the proper place."

Nor were leading statesmen less explicit in their approval. Mr. Mason, in reply to an invitation to attend a public dinner in honor of Mr. Brooks, after referring to his “social and political intercourse " with their " able and justly honored representative," adds : " I know of none whose public career I hold more worthy the full and cordial approbation of his constituents than his." Jefferson Davis, on the same occasion, wrote : " I have only to express to you my sympathy with the feeling which prompts the sons of Carolina to welcome the return of a brother who has been the subject of vilification, misrepresentation, and persecution, because he resented a libellous assault upon the representative of their mother." Nor were they alone Southern men who joined in this formal indorsement. Mr. Buchanan, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, referring to Mr. Sumner's speech, characterized it as "the most vulgar tirade of abuse ever delivered in a representative body "; and added that, though " Mr. Brooks was inconsiderate, .... Senator Butler was a very mild man."

Mr. Savage of Tennessee, in a eulogy in the House, said: “To die nobly is life's chief concern. History records but one Thermopylae ; there ought to have been another, and that one for Preston S. Brooks So shall the scene in the Senate chamber carry the name of the deceased to all future generations, long to be remembered after all men are forgotten and until these proud walls crumble into ruins." So unmistakably did the leading minds of the South indorse the deed and make it their own.

Nor, on the other hand, were the men of the North silent. The thrill of horror and alarm which ran through the free States found expression, as with fitting phrase and indignant emphasis men characterized and denounced the diabolical and cowardly assault. On the floor of Congress were those found who, at much personal hazard, denounced both the assault and the assailant. In the House, John Woodruff of Connecticut, a man proverbial for moderation of temper and deportment, said: “If honorable gentlemen cannot wholly rid themselves of an unwelcome presence, they can, at least, show their appreciation of an action wanting few of the elements of the most audacious crime and of a spirit equal to deeds that I will not name. With an endeavor always to cultivate courtesy, I shall not hesitate, here in my place or elsewhere, to freely characterize as they deserve any lofty assumption of arrogance or any mean achievement of cowardice." For these words he was waited upon and interrogated whether he would receive a challenge from Mr. Brooks. He, however, declined to receive it

Mr. Burlingame, afterward plenipotentiary to China, and from China to the Western nations, spoke of the assault with boldness, eloquence, and force. “I denounce it," he said, "in the name of the Constitution it violates. I denounce it in the name of the sovereignty of Massachusetts, which was stricken down by the blow. I denounce it in the name of humanity. I denounce it in the name of civilization, which it outraged. I denounce it in the name of that fair play which bullies and prize-fighters respect. The Senator from Massachusetts sat in the silence of the Senate

Chamber, engaged in the employments appertaining to his office, when a member from the House, who had taken an oath to sustain the Constitution, stole into the Senate, a place which had hitherto been held sacred against violence, and smote him, as Cain smote his brother." Keitt exclaimed: “That is false." Burlingame replied: "I will not bandy epithets with the gentleman. I am responsible for my own language; doubtless he is responsible for his." “I am," said Keitt. "I shall stand by mine," replied Burlingame.

Mr. Comins, the other representative from Boston, said the murderous blow that smote down Mr. Sumner was “the representative of a power that, having failed to sustain itself in intellectual conflict, resolves itself into brute force, stalks into the Senate chamber, and there, with bludgeon in hand, beats freedom over the head." “In your arrogance," he said,” you assume to be the sole and rightful judges of parliamentary decorum and parliamentary law. We tell you plainly, we will no longer submit to these things." This language gave no little offence to Brooks and his friends; but they took no action concerning it.

Brooks felt compelled, however, to notice Burlingame’s speech. Several days after its delivery, William W. Boyce of South Carolina, and Thomas S. Bocock of Virginia, acting for Brooks, met in consultation with Speaker Banks and George Ashmun, who were friends of Burlingame, with a view of arranging the matter either amicably or otherwise. Burlingame was present, and during the consultation ex pressed his personal regard for Brooks, but condemned the act committed by him. This nice discrimination between the actor and the act was seized upon by the friends of both parties, and it was at once agreed that the affair could be settled upon, that declaration. Though the parties and their immediate friends were satisfied, others were not. The arrangement was soon the subject of public comment and unfavorable criticism. Mr. Burlingame, having left Washington to enter the presidential canvass in the West, Mr. Wilson telegraphed him to return immediately, and he did so. On his return, a copy of the Boston “Courier " of July 18, containing the terms of settlement, and an article severely criticising Mr. Burlingame's action, was placed in his hands by his colleague, Timothy Davis. He immediately declared to Mr. Davis that he would withdraw the whole of his part of the settlement, and he published a card in the “National Intelligencer" of July 22, in which he placed himself upon his speech, yielding nothing and retracting nothing.

Of course, Brooks took action at once, and sent a challenge by General Joseph Lane of Oregon. It was promptly accepted, and the arrangements and details were referred to Lewis D. Campbell of Ohio. Burlingame absented himself from the House, remaining the most of the day in the room of one of his colleagues. Early in the evening, he met and walked with Mr. Wilson in the grounds east of the Capitol. He then expected to meet Brooks outside of the District the next morning. He spoke of his wife, his children, and friends at home; and, on parting, said: “My friend, you know my position; I want you to explain my conduct to my friends, and to defend my memory if anything happens to me." Late in the evening he met Mr. Davis and walked with him in the park near the City Hall. He then, at that hour, supposed he should meet Brooks early the next morning; and he confided to his colleague some matters to be used in case he should fall. At parting, he remarked: “I do not hate Brooks; but I shall kill him."

Mr. Campbell, who wrote the reply to the challenge, decided that the meeting should be held near the Clifton House in Canada, and sent Mr. Burlingame, late in the night, to take the cars, at the junction in Maryland, for that place. But Brooks declined to meet Burlingame at the place designated, on the alleged ground that, in the then excited state of public feeling at the North, it would not be safe for him to undertake the journey.

The friends of freedom generally regretted the course of Mr. Burlingame, though they were not unmindful of the salutary influence which such a response was calculated to exert upon men who had depended largely upon the unwillingness of Northern men to adopt their self-styled “code of honor." Indeed, he himself did not fully indorse the course he felt constrained to adopt. At a public reception, given him in Boston on the 12th of September, he said: “My errors, if errors they were, sprang from the dim light in which I stood, and out of a sincere love for the old Bay State. To my mind, a conflict which under other circumstances would have been merely personal and disgraceful, from the standpoint from which I viewed it rose to the dignity of a great transaction, -- as a defence of freedom of speech. I should have been wiser, I am certain, if I had followed the noble example set by one now near me, who has ever been my leader, and whom I am proud so to acknowledge, -- one who represents Massachusetts in her loftiest mood, on her highest plane of action, -- one whose reason was never dimmed by passion. I pay my full homage to that position here. It is the right position unquestionably."

Public meetings, too, were held in the Northern States, at which resolutions were adopted and speeches were made by their ablest and most distinguished men. Faneuil Hall did not remain silent. At a large and deeply excited meeting, held without distinction of sect or party, Peleg W. Chandler, a leading politician, after alluding to the fact that he was Mr. Sumner's personal friend but " political opponent," said: " It is precisely because I have been and am now his personal friend, and it is precisely because I have been and now am his political opponent, that I am here to-night…Yet personal feelings are of little or no consequence in this outrage. It is a blow not merely at Massachusetts, a blow not merely at the name and fame of our common country; it is a blow at constitutional liberty all the world over, it is a stab at the cause of universal freedom. Whatever may be done in this matter, however, one thing is certain, one thing is sure. The blood of this Northern man now stains the Senate floor, and let me tell you that not all the water of the Potomac can wash it out. Forever, forever, and aye, that stain will plead in silence for liberty wherever man is enslaved, for humanity all over the world, for truth and for justice, now and forever."

Edward Everett, too, whose name and influence had always been associated with what was termed the “conservative "side of the great question at issue, spoke strongly of "the act of lawless violence, of which," he said, "I know no parallel in the history of constitutional government "; adding that " for the good name, the peace, the safety of the country, for the cause of free institutions throughout the world, it were worth all the gold of California to blot from our history the record of the past week." Cambridge, too, spoke from the lips of her distinguished jurists, professors, and literary men; Brown University in the strong, terse words of its president; and New York in the eloquent and forceful utterances of some of its most distinguished lawyers and clergymen. Indignation at the cowardly assault, sympathy for the sufferer, and alarm for the future, mingled largely in the sentiments uttered in the burning words which thus found expression and response. Besides, it entered largely into the presidential campaign that soon commenced, and became one of the battle-cries of freedom and of the new party that then appealed for the first time for the suffrages of the nation.

Nor did the interest cease with the tragedy itself and these immediate demonstrations of approval or disapproval. The sequel was more tragic, and, to the thoughtful, far more impressive and replete with its lessons of wisdom and warning. Of the three prominent actors the most audacious, arrogant, insulting, and, for the time being, seemingly most potential, Brooks and Butler, were in their graves in less than a year; while Keitt died fighting in a war which destroyed the slave system and swept it from the land. Brooks died suddenly, but not until he had confessed to his friend, James L. Orr, that he was tired of the new role he had chosen, and heartsick of being the recognized representative of bullies, the recipient of their ostentatious gifts and officious testimonials of admiration and regard.

Nor were all its lessons exhausted at the South. At the North the subsequent developments were equally suggestive and sad. For, notwithstanding the brutality of the outrage and its unequivocal indorsement by the South, a fact fully recognized and properly condemned by those public demonstrations at the North, yet, when the hour of trial came, as it did in the presidential election in the autumn, the very man who had volunteered an apology for the assault was made President, and that largely by Northern votes. Party was thus shown to be stronger than principle, patriotism stronger than philanthropy, regard for the Union stronger than regard for human rights, the fear of man stronger than the fear of God.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 478-495.


BROWN, Henry "Box," c. 1815-1878, former slave, author, orator, abolitionist, wrote Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written from a Statement of Fact by Himself (1849), published by abolitionist Charles Stearns.

(Brown, 2002; Mabee, 1970, pp. 388-389; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 52, 184, 204-205, 464, 489; Ruggles, 2003; Stearns, 1848)


BROWN, John, 1800-1859, (known as “Old Brown of Osawatomie”), radical abolitionist leader, wrote Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States (1858); condemned slavery; led raid against the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, October 16, 1859.  He was captured, tried and convicted and was executed on December 2, 1859 along with four of his co-defendants.

See also John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry (1859)

(De Caro, 2002; Drake, 1950, pp. 189, 192, 200; Du Bois, 1909; Oates, 1970; Quarles, 1974; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 58, 59, 61, 62, 138, 153, 198, 205-207, 226, 264, 327-329, 338, 422, 427, 478, 675-676; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 404-407; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, pp. 131-134; American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, New York, 1985; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3, p. 690; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, pp. 307-308)

BROWN, John, of Osawatomie, abolitionist, b. in Torrington, Conn., 9 May, 1800; executed in Charlestown, Va., 2 Dec., 1859. His ancestor, Peter Brown, came over with the historic party in the “Mayflower” in 1620. Peter was unmarried, by trade a carpenter, and drew his house-lot in Plymouth with the rest; but he removed soon afterward, with Bradford, Standish, and Winslow, to the neighboring settlement of Duxbury. He was twice married, and died early. One of his descendants in the main line was a Captain John Brown, of the Connecticut militia, who died of disease in the revolutionary service in 1776. This revolutionary captain married Hannah Owen, of Welsh origin; and their son, Owen Brown, married Ruth Mills, who was of Dutch descent; so that John Brown of Osawatomie, their son, had a mingling of the blood of three races in his veins, resulting in a corresponding mixture of strong qualities. Owen Brown left a brief autobiography, which begins by saying: “My life has been of little worth, mostly filled up with vanity.” Then he goes on to describe, with some fulness, this career of frivolity, which will seem to most readers grave and decorous to the last degree. The most interesting entry is the following: “In 1800, May 9, [my son] John was born, one hundred years after his great-grandfather; nothing else very uncommon”; and he adds, in tranquil ignorance of the future: “We lived in peace with all mankind, so far as I know.” How far the parent would have approved the stormy career of the son is now matter of inference only; but we have it in Owen Brown's own declaration that he was one of that early school of abolitionists whom Hopkins and Edwards enlightened; and he apparently took part in the forcible rescue of some slaves claimed by a Virginia clergyman in Connecticut in 1798, soon after that state had abolished slavery. The continuous anti-slavery devotion of the whole family, for three generations, was a thing almost unexampled. Mr. Sanborn has preserved verbatim a most quaint and graphic fragment of autobiography, written by John Brown, of Osawatomie, in 1859. In this he records with the utmost frankness his boyish pursuits and transgressions; how at the age of four he stole three brass pins, and at the age of five removed with his parents to Ohio, where he grew familiar with the Indians, who were then dwelling all around them. He says of himself: “John was never quarrelsome; but was exceedingly fond of the harshest and roughest kind of plays; and could never get enough [of] them. Indeed, when for a short time he was sometimes sent to school, the opportunity it offered to wrestle and snow-ball and run and jump and knock off old seedy wool hats, offered to him almost the only compensation for the confinement and restraint of school.” In this boyish combativeness, without personal quarrelsomeness, we see the quality of the future man. He further records that in boyhood his great delight was in going on responsible expeditions, and by the age of twelve he was often sent a hundred miles into the wilderness with cattle. This adventurous spirit took no military direction; he was disgusted with what he heard of the war of 1812, and for many years used to be fined for refusing to do militia duty. He was very fond of reading, and familiar with every portion of the Bible; but he never danced, and never knew one card from another. Staying in a house where there was a slave-boy almost his own age, and seeing this boy ill-treated—even beaten, as he declares, with an iron fire-shovel—he became, in his own words, “a most determined abolitionist,'” and was led “to declare, or swear, eternal war with slavery.” From the fifteenth to the twentieth years of his age he worked as a farmer and currier, chiefly for his father, and for most of the time as foreman. He then learned surveying, and followed that for a while, afterward gratifying his early love for animals by becoming a shepherd. Mean-while he married, as he says, “a remarkably plain, but neat, industrious, and economical girl, of excellent character, earnest piety, and good practical common sense,” who had, he asserts, a most powerful and good influence over him. This was Dianthe Lusk, a widow, and they had seven children. His second wife was Mary Anne Day, by whom he had thirteen children, and who survived him twenty-five years, dying in San Francisco in 1884. She also was a woman of strong and decided character; and though among the twenty children of the two marriages eight died in early childhood, the survivors all shared the strong moral convictions of their father, and the whole family habitually lived a life of great self-denial in order that his purposes might be carried out.  

The contest for Kansas in 1855-'6 between the friends of freedom and those of slavery was undoubtedly, as it has since been called, the skirmish-line of the civil war. It was there made evident—what an anti-slavery leader so conspicuous as Joshua R. Giddings had utterly refused to believe—that the matter was coming to blows. The condition of affairs was never better stated than in the Charleston “Mercury” by a young man named Warren Wilkes, who had commanded for a time a band of so-called southern “settlers” in Kansas. He wrote in the spring of 1856: “If the south secures Kansas, she will extend slavery into all territories south of the fortieth parallel of north latitude to the Rio Grande; and this, of course, will secure for her pent-up institution of slavery an ample outlet, and restore her power in congress. If the north secures Kansas, the power of the south in congress will be gradually diminished, and the slave property will become valueless. All depends upon the action of the present moment.” Here was a point on which young Wilkes on the one side, and John Brown on the other, were absolutely agreed; and each went to work in his own way to save Kansas to his side by encouraging immigration from their respective regions. We can, at this distance of time, admit that this was within the right of each; but the free-state men went almost wholly as bona-fide settlers, while numbers of those who went from Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina viewed the enterprise simply as a military foray, without intending to remain. It was also true that the latter class, coming from communities then more lawless, went generally armed; while the free-state men went at first unarmed, afterward arming themselves reluctantly and by degrees. The condition of lawlessness that ensued was undoubtedly demoralizing to both sides; it was to a great extent a period of violence and plunder—civil war on a petty scale; but the original distinction never wholly passed away, and the ultimate character of the community was fortunately shaped and controlled by the free-state settlers. However it might be with others, for John Brown the Kansas contest was deliberately undertaken as a part of the great war against slavery. He went there with more cautious and far-reaching purposes than most others, and he carried out those purposes with the strength of a natural leader. As early as 1834, by a letter still in existence, he had communicated to his brother Frederick his purpose to make active war upon slavery, the plan being then to bring together some “first-rate abolitionist families” and undertake the education of colored youth. “If once the Christians of the free states would set to work in earnest teaching the blacks, the people of the slave-holding states would find themselves constitutionally driven to set about the work of emancipation immediately.” This letter was written when he was postmaster under President Jackson, at Randolph, Pa., and was officially franked by Brown, as was then the practice. When we consider what were Jackson's views as to anti-slavery agitation, especially through the mails, it is curious to consider what a firebrand he was harboring in one of his own post-offices. It appears from this letter and other testimony that Brown at one time solemnly called his older sons together and pledged them, kneeling in prayer, to give their lives to anti-slavery work. It must be remembered that Prudence Crandall had been arrested and sent to jail in Connecticut, only the year before, for doing, in a small way, what Brown now proposed to do systematically. For some time he held to his project in this form, removing from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1835-'6, and from Ohio to Massachusetts in 1846, engaging in different enterprises, usually in the wool business, but always keeping the main end in view. For instance, in 1840 he visited western Virginia to survey land belonging to Oberlin college, and seems to have had some plan for colonizing colored people there. At last, in 1846, on the anniversary of West India emancipation, Gerrit Smith, a great land-owner in New York state, offered to give a hundred thousand acres of wild land in northern New York to such colored families, fugitive slaves, or others as would take them in small farms and clear them. It was a terribly hard region into which to invite those children of the south; six months of winter and no possibility of raising either wheat or Indian corn. Brown convinced himself, nevertheless, that he could be of much use to the colored settlers, and in 1848-'9 purchased a farm from Mr. Smith and removed the younger part of his family to North Elba, which was their home until his death. His wife and young children lived there in the greatest frugality, voluntarily practised by them all for the sake of helping others. He, meanwhile, often absented himself on anti-slavery enterprises, forming, for instance, at Springfield, Mass., his former home, a “League of Gileadites,” pledged to the rescue of fugitive slaves. In one of his manuscript addresses to this body he lays down the rule, “Stand by one another and by your friends while a drop of blood remains; and be hanged if you must, but tell no tales out of school.” This was nearly nine years before his own death on the scaffold.  

In 1854 five of Brown's sons, then resident in Ohio, made their arrangements to remove to Kansas, regarding it as a desirable home, where they could exert an influence for freedom; but they were so little prepared for an armed struggle that they had among them only two small shot-guns and a revolver. They selected claims eight or ten miles from Osawatomie, and their father, contrary to his previous intention, joined them there in October, 1855. In March of that year the first election for a territorial constitution had taken place. Thousands of Missourians, armed with rifles, and even with cannon, had poured over the border, and, although less than a thousand legal votes were thrown in the territory, more than six thousand went through the form of voting. This state of things continued through that year and the next, and the present writer saw an election precisely similar in the town of Leavenworth, in the autumn of 1856. Hostilities were soon brought on by the murder and unlawful arrest of men known to be opposed to slavery. The Brown family were mustered in as Kansas militia by the free-state party, and turned out to defend the town of Lawrence from a Missourian invasion, which was compromised without bloodshed. A few months later Lawrence was attacked and pillaged. Other murders took place, and a so-called grand jury indicted many free-state men, including in the indictment the “Free State Hotel” in Lawrence. Two of Brown's sons were arrested by United States cavalry, which, at this time, Pierce being president, acted wholly with the pro-slavery party. John Brown, Jr., the oldest, was driven on foot at the head of a cavalry company, at a trot, for nine miles to Osawatomie, his arms being tied behind him. This state of things must be fully remembered in connection with the so-called “Pottawatomie massacre,” which furnishes, in the opinion of both friends and foes, the most questionable incident in Brown's career. This occurrence took place on 25 May, 1856, and consisted in the deliberate assassination of five representatives of the pro-slavery party at night, they being called from their beds for the purpose. It was done in avowed retribution for the assassination of five free-state men, and was intended to echo far beyond Kansas, as it did, and to announce to the slave-holding community that blood for blood would henceforth be exacted in case of any further invasion of rights. It undoubtedly had that effect, and though some even in Kansas regarded it with disapproval, it is certain that leading citizens of the territory, such as Governor Robinson, themselves justified it at the time. Robinson wrote, as late as February, 1878: “I never had much doubt that Capt. Brown was the author of the blow at Pottawatomie, for the reason that he was the only man who comprehended the situation, and saw the absolute necessity of some such blow, and had the nerve to strike it.” Brown himself said, a few years later: “I knew all good men who loved freedom, when they became better acquainted with the circumstances of the case, would approve of it.” It is, nevertheless, probable that the public mind will be permanently divided in judgment upon this act; just as there is still room, after centuries have passed, for two opinions as to the execution of Charles I. or the banishment of Roger Williams. Much, of course, turns upon the actual character of the five men put to death—men whom the student will find painted in the darkest colors in Mr. Sanborn's life of John Brown, and in much milder hues in Mr. Spring's “History of Kansas.” The successive phases of sentiment on the whole subject may be partly attributed to the fact that the more pacific Kansas leaders, such as Robinson and Pomeroy, have happened to outlive the fighting men, such as Brown, Lane, and Montgomery; so that there is a little disposition just now to underrate the services of the combatants and overrate those of the noncombatants. As a matter of fact, there was in the territory at the time no noticeable difference of opinion between those two classes; and it is quite certain that slavery would have triumphed over all legal and legislative skill had not the sword been thrown into the balance, even in a small way. The largest affairs in which Brown and his sons took part, “Black Jack” and “Osawatomie,” for instance, seem trifling amid the vast encounters of the civil war; but these petty skirmishes, nevertheless, began that great conflict.  

The purpose that finally took John Brown to Virginia had doubtless been many years in his mind, dating back, indeed, to the time when he was a surveyor in the mountains of that state, in early life. Bishop Meade says, in his “Old Churches and Ministers of Virginia,” that he wrote the book in view of a range of mountains which Washington had selected as the final stronghold of his revolutionary army, should he be defeated in the contest with England; and it was these same mountains which John Brown regarded as having been designed by the Almighty, from all eternity, as a refuge for fugitive slaves. His plan for his enterprise varied greatly in successive years, and no doubt bore marks of the over-excited condition of his mind; but as he ordinarily told it to the few with whom he had consulted outside of his own band, there was nothing incoherent or impracticable about it; it was simply the establishment on slave soil of a defensible station for fugitive slaves, within the reach of the Pennsylvania border, so that bodies of slaves could hold their own for a time against a superior force, and could be transferred, if necessary, through the free states to Canada. Those who furnished him with arms and money at the north did so from personal faith in him, and from a common zeal for his objects, without asking to know details. He had stated his general plan to Douglass and others in 1847, and in 1857 had established at Tabor, in Iowa, a town peculiarly friendly to the free-state men during the Kansas troubles, a sort of school of military drill under the direction of a Scottish adventurer, Hugh Forbes, who attempted to betray him. He afterward had a similar school at Springfield, Iowa, and meanwhile negotiated with his eastern friends for funds. He had already in his hands two hundred rifles from the national Kansas committee; and although these were really the property of George L. Stearns, of Medford, Mass., representing a small part of the $10,000 which that gentleman had given to make Kansas free, yet this was enough to hamper in some degree the action of his Boston allies. Their position was also embarrassed by many curious, rambling letters from his drill-master, Forbes, written to members of congress and others, and disclosing what little he knew of the plans. This led the eastern allies to insist—quite unnecessarily, as it seemed to one or two of them—on a postponement for a year of the whole enterprise. On 3 June, 1858, Brown left Boston, with $500 in gold and with liberty to keep the Kansas rifles. Most of his friends in the eastern states knew nothing more of his movements until it was announced that he had taken possession of the U. S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va. A few, however, were aware that he was about to enter on the execution of his plans somewhere, though they did not know precisely where. Late in June, 1859, Brown and several of his men appeared in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry, and soon afterward hired a small farm, which they occupied. Then his daughter Anne, a girl of fifteen, together with his daughter-in-law, wife of Oliver Brown, appeared upon the scene and kept house for them. There they lived for many weeks, unsuspected by their neighbors, and gradually receiving from Ohio their boxes of rifles and pistols, besides a thousand pikes from Connecticut. In August he was visited by Frederick Douglass, to whom he disclosed his plan of an attack on Harper's Ferry, which Douglass opposed, thinking it would not really be favorable to his ultimate object of reaching the slaves. But he persevered, and finally began his operations with twenty-two men, besides himself. Six of these were colored; and it may be added that only six of the whole party escaped alive, and only one of these is now (September, 1886) living—Owen Brown.  

On Sunday evening, 16 Oct., 1859, Brown mustered eighteen of his men—the rest having been assigned to other duties—saying: “Men, get on your arms; we will proceed to the Ferry.” It was a cold, dark night, ending in rain. At half-past ten they reached the armory-gate and broke it in with a crow-bar, easily overpowering the few watchmen on duty. Before midnight the village was quietly patrolled by Brown's men, without firing a gun, and six men had been sent to bring in certain neighboring planters, with their slaves. He had taken several leading citizens prisoners, as hostages, but had allowed a rail way train to go through northward, which of course carried the news. The citizens of the town gradually armed themselves, and some shots were exchanged, killing several men; and before night Brown, who might easily have escaped, was hopelessly hemmed in. Col. Robert E. Lee, afterward well known in history, arrived from Washington at evening with a company of U.S. marines, and all was practically over. Brown and his men, now reduced to six, were barricaded in a little building called the engine- house, and were shot down one by one, thousands of bullets, according to a Virginia witness, having been imbedded in the walls. Brown constantly returned the fire, refusing to surrender; but when some of his men aimed at passers-by who had taken no part in the matter, he would stop them, according to the same Virginia witness, Capt. Dangerfield, saying: “Don't shoot! that man is unarmed.” Col. Washington, another Virginia witness, has testified to the extraordinary coolness with which Brown felt the pulse of his dying son, while holding his own rifle with the other hand, and encouraging his men to be firm. All this time he was not recognized, until Lieut. J. E. B. Stuart, who had known him in Kansas, called him by his name. When he was finally captured, his two sons were dead, and he himself was supposed to be dying.  

No one will ever be able exactly to understand that mood of John Brown's mind which induced him to remain in Harper's Ferry to certain death. His reason for taking possession of the town and arsenal was undoubtedly a desire to alarm the country at large, and not merely secure arms, but attract recruits to his side, after he should have withdrawn. Why did he remain? Those who escaped from the terrible disaster could not answer. Brown himself is reported as saying that it was preordained; that if he had once escaped, he knew the Virginia mountains too well to be captured; but that he for the first time lost command of himself and was punished for it. Gov. Wise, of Virginia, with several hundred men, reached Harper's Ferry by the noon train of 18 Oct., and Brown held conversations, which have been fully reported, with him and others. Gov. Wise said of him: “They are mistaken who take Brown to be a madman. He is a bundle of the best nerves I ever saw; cut and thrust and bleeding and in bonds. He is a man of clear head, of courage, fortitude, and simple ingenuousness. He is cool, collected, indomitable; and it is but just to him to say that he was humane to his prisoners, and he inspired me with great trust in his integrity as a man of truth.” This opinion, coming from the man whose immediate duty it was to see him tried and executed as a felon, may be regarded as a final and trustworthy estimate.  

John Brown was tried before a Virginia court, legal counsel going to him from Massachusetts. All thought of a rescue was precluded by strong messages of prohibition sent by him. The proposal to send his wife to him, this being planned partly in the hope that she might shake his determination, was also refused, and she did not see him until after his trial. He was sentenced to death by hanging, and this sentence was executed 2 Dec., 1859. On the day of his death he handed to one of his guards a paper on which he had written this sentence: “Charlestown, Va., Dec. 2, 1859. I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.” Within eighteen months this prophecy was fulfilled, and many a northern regiment, as it marched to the seat of war, sang that which will always remain, more than any other, the war-song of the great conflict: 

“John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

  But his soul is marching on.” 

His bearing on the scaffold, under exceptionally trying circumstances, evinced wonderful fortitude. After the sheriff had told him that all was ready, and had adjusted the rope and the cap, ten or fifteen minutes passed, while the military escort formed a hollow square. During this painfully long interval, John Brown, blindfolded, stood alone erect, like a statue unsupported. An eyewitness who was very near him could not detect a tremor. A further delay occurred while the sheriff descended the steps of the scaffold, but Brown never wavered, and died apparently with muscles and nerves still subject to his iron will. His career is remarkable for its dramatic quality, for the important part he played in events preliminary to the great civil war, and for the strong and heroic traits shown in his life and death. He belonged to a class of men whose permanent fame is out of all proportion to their official importance or contemporary following; and indeed he represents a type more akin to that seen among the Scottish covenanters of two centuries ago than to anything familiar in our own days. With John Brown were executed Copeland, Green, Cook, and Coppoc, of his company.  Stephens and Hazlett were put to death in the same way later. An effort for their rescue, organized in Boston, with men brought mainly from Kansas, under Capt. Montgomery as leader, proved abortive.  

In regard to the bearing of John Brown's enterprise upon subsequent history, it is enough if we recall the fact that a select committee of the U. S. senate investigated the whole affair, and the majority, consisting of John M. Mason, Jefferson Davis, and Graham N. Fitch, submitted a report in which occurs the following passage: “The invasion (to call it so) by Brown and his followers at Harper's Ferry was in no sense of that character. It was simply the act of lawless ruffians, under the sanction of no public or political authority—distinguishable only from ordinary felonies by the ulterior ends in contemplation by them, and by the fact that the money to maintain the expedition, and the large armament they brought with them, had been contributed and furnished by the citizens of other states of the union, under circumstances that must continue to jeopard the safety and peace of the southern states, and against which congress has no power to legislate. If the several states, whether from motives of policy or a desire to preserve the peace of the union, if not from fraternal feeling, do not hold it incumbent on them, after the experience of the country, to guard in future by appropriate legislation against occurrences similar to the one here inquired into, the committee can find no guarantee elsewhere for the security of peace between the states of the union.” It is a sufficient commentary on the implied threat with which this report concludes, to point out that two of its three signers, within the year following, became leaders of the movement for a forcible division of the union. In view of this fact, it is impossible to doubt that the enterprise of John Brown was an important link in the chain of historical events. The life of Capt. Brown has been at least three times written—by James Redpath, by Richard D. Webb, of Dublin, and by Frank B. Sanborn. The last named is the fullest work, and has the approval of John Brown's family; it is the result of much personal research, and is, with some defects of arrangement, a mine of information in regard to one of the most remarkable men of his time. 


BROWN, JOHN L. was sentenced to hang in South Carolina for aiding a female enslaved person to escape.  This event set off a protest among abolitionists.  A memorial was signed by Reverend William Jay in England and was published.  The memorial was addressed from churches and benevolent societies in Lancashire, England.  The memorial was then sent to churches in South Carolina and throughout the United States.  The memorial was signed by 1,300 prominent clergymen in England, including Thomas Clarkson.  (Wilson, 1872, p. 565)


BROWN, Moses, 1738-1836, Maine, Providence, Rhode Island, abolitionist, industrialist, educator, Quaker, philanthropist.  Vice president and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, December 1833.  Co-founder of Brown University.  Co-founded Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade in 1789.

(Appletons, 1888, Vol. 1, p. 396; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 146; Bruns, 1977, pp. 308-313, 492-493, 515; Drake, 1950, pp. 79-80, 89, 97, 102, 123; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 2, 7, 17, 60, 87, 111; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 107, 120-121, 156, 157; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833)

BROWN, Moses, b. in Providence, R. I., 23 Sept., 1738; d. there, 6 Sept., 1836. He was brought up in the family of his uncle, Obadiah Brown, whose daughter he married, and a portion of whose estate he inherited by will. In 1763 he became engaged in business with his three brothers, but, after ten years' active experience, withdrew to follow more congenial interests. Although brought up in the Baptist faith, he became, subsequent to severe domestic affliction, a member of the Society of Friends, and remained until his death a firm adherent to the doctrines of that society. He exerted a strong influence in all its concerns, and filled many of its important offices with dignity and usefulness. The Friends' boarding-school in Providence was founded by him, and his donations to its support were frequent and liberal. In 1773 he manumitted his slaves, and was one of the founders of the abolition society of Rhode Island. He was also an active member and liberal supporter of the Rhode Island Peace and Bible societies. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 396.


BROWN, Owen, 1771-1856, Torrington, Connecticut.  Father of abolitionist John Brown.  Owen Brown co-founded the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society (Western Reserve College).


BROWN, William Wells, 1814-1884, African American, abolitionist leader, author, historian, former slave, anti-slave lecturer, temperance activist. Wrote Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself, 1847, also The American Fugitive in Europe, 1855.  Lecturer for Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, Massachusetts and American Anti-Slavery Society.  Wrote anti-slavery plays, “Experience; or How to Give a Northern Man a Backbone,” “The Escape; or A Leap for Freedom,” 1856.

(Brown, 1856; Brown, 1847; Farrison, 1969; Greenspan, 2008; Mabee, 1970, pp. 52, 61, 65, 96-98, 137, 140, 145, 159, 161, 203, 221, 252, 258, 265, 333, 371, 390; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 29, 50, 55, 57, 61, 72, 179, 208-209, 246; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 161; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3, p. 751; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., & Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, eds. African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013, Vol. 2, p.  325)


BRUNE, Frederick W., Baltimore, Maryland.  Leader, Maryland State Colonization Society. 

(Campbell,1971, p. 192)


BRYAN, George, 1731-1791, Dublin, Ireland, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, abolitionist leader, legislator, businessman, statesman, jurist.  Introduced abolition bills.  Elected the first Vice President of Pennsylvania (Lieutenant Governor), 1777-1779, Second President (Governor), 1778.

(Basker, 2005, pp. 76, 82-83; Bruns, 1977, pp. 445-446; Locke, 1901, p. 78; Nash, 1991, pp. 100-105, 107, 110, 113-114, 121, 157, 201; Zilversmit, 1967, pp. 125, 126, 128, 129, 131; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 421; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 189)

BRYAN, George, jurist, b in Dublin, Ireland, in 1731; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 27 Jan., 1791. He came to this country in early life, and was engaged some years in commercial pursuits in Philadelphia. He was a member of the state assembly, and in 1765 was a delegate to the stamp-act congress, in which, and in the subsequent struggle, he took an active part. He was vice-president of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania from the period of the Declaration of Independence, and in May, 1778, was advanced to the presidency. In November of that year he sent a message to the assembly, pressing upon their attention a bill proposed by the council in 1777 for the gradual abolition of slavery in the state. “In divesting the state of slaves,” said he, “you will equally serve the cause of humanity and policy, and offer to God one of the most proper and best returns of gratitude for his great deliverance of us and our posterity from thraldom.” In 1779 Bryan was elected to the legislature. On his motion the subject was referred to a committee, of which he himself was a member, and he prepared the draft of a law for gradual emancipation. He was appointed a judge of the state supreme court in 1780, and remained in that office until his death. In 1784 he was elected one of the council of censors. He strenuously opposed the adoption of the federal constitution. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 421.


BRYANT, William Cullen, 1794-1874, author, poet, editor.  Wrote antislavery poetry. 

(Rodriguez, 2007, p. 326; Staudenraus, 1961, pp. 101-102; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 422-426; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 200; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3)




BUFFUM, Arnold, 1782-1859, Smithfield, Rhode Island, Indiana, New York, New York, Society of Friends, Quaker, radical abolitionist, temperance reformer, philanthropist.  Maor of Lynn, Massachusetts.  Member, Massachusetts House of Representatives.  Co-founder (with William Lloyd Garrison) and first president of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, in 1832.  Manager and founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in December 1833.  Manager, Massachusetts, 1833-1837; Manager, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1835-1837; Vice President, 1834-1836.  Executive Committee, American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1846-1855.  Lectured extensively against slavery.  Visited England to promote abolitionism.  Was influenced by English anti-slavery leaders Clarkson and Wilberforce.

(Drake, 1950, pp. 137, 157-158, 162-163, 178; Pease, 1965, pp. 418-427; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 218, 401, 433; Staudenraus, 1961, pp. 195-198, 209-210; Van Broekhoven, 2002, pp. 18, 20, 22, 58, 62, 66, 67; Abolitionist, Vol. I, No. XII, December, 1833; Buffum, Arnold, Lectures Showing the Necessity for a Liberty Party, and Setting Forth its Principles, Measures and Object, 1844; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 241; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II. New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 320)


BUFFUM, James Needham, 1807-1887, Mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts, abolitionist, supporter of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.  Vice President, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, 1845-1848. 

(Mabee, 1970, pp. 114, 119, 120, 121, 123, 125, 210, 211, 221, 225, 250, 342; New York Times obituary: June 13, 1888)


BURLEIGH, Charles Calistus, 1810-1878, Connecticut, radical abolitionist, lawyer.  Leader of the Pennsylvania Free Produce Association.  Lectured extensively on evils of slavery.  Edited Pennsylvania Freeman paper of the Eastern Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society.  Active in temperance, peace and women’s rights movements. 

(Drake, 1950, p. 171; Dumond, 1961, pp. 186, 265, 273; Mabee, 1970, pp. 34, 35, 66, 298, 368; Pease, 1965, pp. 172-177; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 455; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 284; Burleigh, “Slavery and the North” [Anti-Slavery Tract No. 10], New York, 1855, pp. 2-3, 8-10; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3, p. 959; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II, New York: James T. White, 1892, p. 320)

BURLEIGH, Charles C., abolitionist, b. in Plainfield, Conn., 10 Nov., 1810; d. in Florence, Mass., 14 June, 1878. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar of Windham co., Conn., but soon became interested in the anti-slavery movement, in which he attained high distinction as an orator and an earnest worker. He, with his brother, edited an abolitionist newspaper called “The Unionist,” the publisher being Miss Prudence Crandall (q. v.), who was indicted for keeping a colored school in Connecticut. He rendered efficient service to Mr. Garrison in Boston in protecting him from the violence of the mob in 1835, and was one of the speakers in Pennsylvania hall, in Philadelphia, when that building was burned by a mob in 1838. He was one of the earliest advocates of women's rights and of liberalism in religion, as he was also of temperance principles, in behalf of which he spoke frequently. For fifteen years he was resident speaker of the free Congregational society in Florence, Mass., and for one year preached in Bloomington, Ill. He was the author of “Thoughts on the Death Penalty” (1845), and a tract on the Sabbath, which advanced anti-Sabbatarian views. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 455.


BURLEIGH, William Henry, 1812-1871, Connecticut, journalist.  Active in temperance, peace and women’s rights movements.  Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society. Editor of the anti-slavery newspapers Christian Freeman, newspaper of the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society, and the Charter Oak.  Leader of the Liberty Party.  In 1836, he was appointed a lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS).  In 1840-1841, Burleigh was a Manager of the AASS.  As a result of his protesting the war against Mexico, which he felt was being fought for the “slave power,” Burleigh was attacked by mobs and barely escaped being hurt. 

(Dumond, 1961, pp. 186, 265, 273, 301; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, p. 455; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 280; American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, Vol. 3, p. 961)

BURLEIGH, William Henry, journalist, b. in Woodstock, Conn., 2 Feb., 1812 ; d. in Brooklyn, N. Y., 18 March, 1871. He was a lineal descendant, on his mother's side, of Gov. Bradford. His father, a graduate of Yale in 1803, had been a popular and successful teacher, but in 1827 became totally blind. William, who had been bred on a farm and educated principally by his father, was now apprenticed to a clothier and afterward to a village printer. He contributed to the columns of the newspaper it was a part of his duty to print, not in written communications, but by setting up his articles without the intervention of writing. From the autumn of 1832 till 1835 he was almost constantly engaged in editorial duties and in charge of papers advocating one or all of the great reforms then agitating the public mind—anti-slavery, temperance, and peace. Though naturally one of the most genial and amiable of men, Mr. Burleigh was stern in his adherence to principle. In 1836 he added to his editorial duties the labor of lecturing in behalf of the American anti-slavery society, and defending their views. For a time he had charge of the “Literary Journal” in Schenectady, then became in 1837 editor of the Pittsburg “Temperance Banner,” afterward called the “Christian Witness,” the organ of the western Pennsylvania anti-slavery society. In 1843 he was invited to Hartford by the executive committee of the Connecticut anti-slavery society, and took charge of its organ, the “Christian Freeman,” which soon became the “Charter Oak,” a vigorously edited and brilliant defender of the anti-slavery and temperance reforms. Mr. Burleigh afterward took charge of the Washington “Banner.” He struck trenchant blows at popular vices and political depravity in his papers, and received his reward more than once in mob violence. But while he deemed this heroic defence of unpopular doctrines a duty, and maintained it with unfaltering heart, he disliked controversy, and, whenever he could command the means for it, he would establish a purely literary paper, which, though generally short-lived, always contained gems of poetry and prose from his prolific pen, and avoided controversial topics. In 1850 he disposed of the “Charter Oak” to the free-soilers, the nucleus of the republican party, and removed to Syracuse, and subsequently to Albany, N. Y., to be the general agent and lecturer of the New York state temperance society and-editor of the “Prohibitionist.” When in 1855 Gov. Clark offered him, unsolicited, the place of harbor-master of the port of New York, he accepted it and removed to Brooklyn. For the next fifteen years he was either harbor-master or port-warden, but found time for much literary and some political labor. In the political campaigns he was in demand as a speaker, and his thorough knowledge of all the questions before the people, together with his eloquence, made him popular. He was also in request as a lyceum lecturer, especially on anti-slavery subjects. A collection of his poems was published in 1841, followed by enlarged editions in 1845 and 1850. A part of these were after his death published, with a memoir by his widow (Boston, 1871).—His wife, Celia, reformer, b. in Cazenovia, N. Y., in 1825; d. in Syracuse, 26 July, 1875. She was a teacher, and in 1844 married C. B. Kellum and removed with him to Cincinnati. She was divorced from him, and in 1851 married Charles Channey Burr; was again divorced, and in 1865 married Mr. Burleigh. She was the first president of the Woman’s club, Brooklyn, and took an active part in advocating woman suffrage and other reform movements. After Mr. Burleigh's death she prepared herself for the ministry, and was pastor of a Unitarian church in Brooklyn, Conn., until 1873; but failing health compelled her to resign in October, 1871, when she went to the water-cure establishment of Dr. Jackson in Danville, N. Y. Mrs. Burleigh had a wide reputation as an able writer and an eloquent speaker. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 455.


BURLING, William, b. 1678, Flushing, Long Island, Society of Friends, Quaker.  Tried to have fellow Quakers give up slaveholding.  He called it a sin.  Wrote tracts against slavery, circa 1718. 

(Basker, 2005, p. 120; Drake, 1950, pp. 34, 36-37, 107)


BURLINGAME, Anson, 1820-1870, New Berlin. New York, diplomat, lawyer, orator, Republican United States Congressman.  Anti-slavery activist in the House of Representatives. 

(Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 456-457; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 289).

BURLINGAME, Anson, diplomatist, b. in New Berlin, Chenango co., N. Y., 14 Nov., 1820; d. in St. Petersburg, Russia, 23 Feb., 1870. He was the descendant of a family who were among the early settlers of Rhode Island. His father, a farmer, removed, when Anson was three years old, to a farm in Seneca co., Ohio, where they lived for ten years, and in 1833 again removed to Detroit, and after two years more to a farm at Branch, Mich. In 1837 Anson was admitted to the University of Michigan, and six years later went to Cambridge, Mass., and entered the law-school of Harvard university, where he was graduated in 1846. He began the practice of the law in Boston, and a year or two later became an active member and a popular orator of the free-soil party, then recently formed. In the political campaign of 1848 he acquired a wide reputation as a public speaker in behalf of the election of Van Buren and Adams. In 1849-'50 he visited Europe. In 1852 he was elected to the Massachusetts senate, and in 1853 he served as a member of the state constitutional convention, to which he was elected by the town of Northborough, though he resided in Cambridge. He joined the American party on its formation in 1854, and in that year was elected by it to the 34th congress. In the following year he co-operated in the formation of the republican party, to which he ever afterward steadily adhered. In congress he bore himself with courage and address, and was recognized as one of the ablest debaters on the anti-slavery side of the house. For the severe terms in which he denounced the assault committed by Preston S. Brooks upon Senator Sumner, in 1856, he was challenged by Brooks. He promptly accepted the challenge, and named rifles as the weapons, and Navy island, just above Niagara Falls, as the place. To the latter proposition Mr. Brooks demurred, alleging that, in order to meet his opponent in Canada, in the then excited state of public feeling, he would have to expose himself to popular violence in passing through “the enemy's country,” as he called the northern states. The matter fell through, but the manner in which Mr. Burlingame had conducted himself greatly raised him in the estimation of his friends and of his party; and on his return to Boston, at the end of his term, he was received with distinguished honors. He was re-elected to the 35th and 36th congresses; but failing, after an animated and close contest, to be returned to the 37th, his legislative career ended in March, 1861. He was immediately appointed by President Lincoln minister to Austria; but that government declined to receive, in a diplomatic capacity, a man who had spoken often and eloquently in favor of Hungarian independence, and had moved in congress the recognition of Sardinia as a first-class power. He was then sent as minister to China. In 1865 he returned to the United States with the intention of resigning his office; but the secretary of state urged him to resume his functions for the purpose of carrying out important projects and negotiations that he had initiated. To this he finally consented. When, in 1867, he announced his intention of returning home, Prince Kung, regent of the empire, offered to appoint him special envoy to the United States and the great European powers, for the purpose of framing treaties of amity with those nations—an honor never before conferred on a foreigner. This place Mr. Burlingame accepted, and, at the head of a numerous mission, he arrived in the United States in March, 1868. On 28 July supplementary articles to the treaty of 1858 were signed at Washington, and soon afterward ratified by the Chinese government. These articles, afterward known as “The Burlingame Treaty,” marked the first official acceptance by China of the principles of international law, and provided, in general, that the privileges enjoyed by western nations under that law—the right of eminent domain, the right of appointing consuls at the ports of the United States, and the power of the government to grant or withhold commercial privileges and immunities at their own discretion, subject to treaty—should be secured to China; that nation undertaking to observe the corresponding obligations prescribed by international law toward other peoples. Special provisions also stipulated for entire liberty of conscience and worship for Americans in China, and Chinese in America; for joint efforts against the cooly trade; for the enjoyment by Chinese in America and Americans in China of all rights in respect to travel and residence accorded to citizens of the most favored nation; for similar reciprocal rights in the matter of the public educational institutions of the two countries, and for the right of establishing schools by citizens of either country in the other. The concluding article disclaims, on the part of the United States, the right of interference with the domestic administration of China in the matter of railroads, telegraphs, and internal improvements, but agrees that the United States will furnish assistance in these points on proper conditions, when requested by the Chinese government. From America Mr. Burlingame proceeded in the latter part of 1868 to England, and thence to France (1869), Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and Prussia, in all of which countries he was favorably received, and in all of which, but France, to which he intended returning, he negotiated important treaties or articles of agreement. He reached St. Petersburg early in 1870, and had just entered upon the business of his mission when he died of pneumonia, after an illness of only a few days. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1888.


BURNS, ANTHONY, FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE, c. 1830-1862, fugitive slave, abolitionist, clergyman. 

(Mabee, 1970, pp.308-312, 324, 373, 418n31; Pease, 1965, pp. lxxviii-lxxix, 251; Rodriguez, 2007, pp. 56, 212-213, 303, 415, 477-478; Stevens, 1856; Von Frank, 1998; Boston Slave Riot and the Trial of Anthony Burns, 1854; Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 404, 460; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 308)

Biography from Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography:

BURNS, Anthony, fugitive slave, b. in Virginia about 1830; d. in St. Catharines, Canada, 27 July, 1862. He effected his escape from slavery in Virginia, and was at work in Boston in the winter of 1853-'4. On 23 May, 1854, the U. S. house of representatives passed the Kansas-Nebraska bill repealing the Missouri compromise, and permitting the extension of negro slavery, which had been restricted since 1820. The news caused great indignation throughout the free states, especially in Boston, where the anti-slavery party had its headquarters. Just at this crisis Burns was arrested by U.S. Marshal Watson Freeman, under the provisions of the fugitive-slave act, on a warrant sworn out by Charles F. Suttle. He was confined in the Boston court-house under a strong guard, and on 25 May was taken before U. S. Commissioner Loring for examination. Through the efforts of Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker, an adjournment was secured to 27 May, and in the mean time a mass-meeting was called at Faneuil hall, and the U.S. marshal summoned a large posse of extra deputies, who were armed and stationed in and about the court-house to guard against an expected attempt at the rescue of Burns. The meeting at Faneuil hall was addressed by the most prominent men of Boston, and could hardly be restrained from adjourning in a body to storm the court-house. While this assembly was in session, a premature attempt to rescue Burns was made under the leadership of Thomas W. Higginson. A door of the courthouse was battered in, one of the deputies was killed in the fight, and Col. Higginson and others of the assailants were wounded. A call for re-enforcements was sent to Faneuil hall, but in the confusion it never reached the chairman. On the next day the examination was held before Commissioner Loring, Richard H. Dana and Charles M. Ellis appearing for the prisoner. The evidence showed that Burns was amenable under the law, and his surrender to his master was ordered. When the decision was made known, many houses were draped in black, and the state of popular feeling was such that the government directed that the prisoner be sent to Virginia on board the revenue cutter “Morris.” He was escorted to the wharf by a strong guard, through streets packed with excited crowds. At the wharf the tumult seemed about to culminate in riot, when the Rev. Daniel Foster (who was killed in action early in the civil war) exclaimed, “Let us pray!” and silence fell upon the multitude, who stood with uncovered heads, while Burns was hurried on board the cutter. A more impressively dramatic ending, or one more characteristic of an excited but law-abiding and God-fearing New England community, could hardly be conceived for this famous case. Burns afterward studied at Oberlin college, and eventually became a Baptist minister, and settled in Canada, where, during the closing years of his life, he presided over a congregation of his own color. See “Anthony Burns, A History,” by C. E. Stevens (Boston, 1854). Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I. pp. 460.

Chapter: “The Arbitrary Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

On Tuesday morning, the 23d of May, 1854, intelligence was flashed over the country that the House of Representatives had passed, late in the hours of the preceding night, the bill for the repeal of the Missouri prohibition of slavery. At a time, then, when the country was profoundly agitated, and all hope of defeating that obnoxious measure had died, and the people, especially of New England, were sad and indignant, Charles F. Suttle, a Virginia slaveholder, applied to Edward G. Loring of Boston for a warrant, under the Fugitive Slave Act, for the seizure of Anthony Burns. A warrant was granted the next day by this judge of probate and United States commissioner. On the evening of that day, Burns was arrested on a false pretext, taken to the Court House, and kept by the marshal under an armed guard. On the morning of the 25th, he was brought before the commissioner. Seth J. Thomas and Edward G. Parker appeared for the claimant. Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker, hearing of the arrest, procured admittance into the Court House with no little difficulty. Mr. Parker states that he spoke with Burns, who “sat in the dock, ironed, between two of the marshal's guards." Richard H. Dana, Jr., and Charles M. Ellis, interposed, not as counsel, but simply as amid curia, friends of the court, protested against the unseemly haste of the proceedings, asked that counsel might be assigned to Burns, and begged for an adjournment of the examination. After repeated protests and requests, the commissioner adjourned the hearing until the morning of the 27th.

The intelligence of this arrest created widespread and intense excitement. Application was made and readily granted for the use of Faneuil Hall, in which to give expression to the public feeling. On the afternoon of the 26th, a meeting was held in Meionaon Hall. Fiery and excited speeches and all sorts of motions were made. Many were in favor of a night attack upon the Court House, for the rescue of the alleged fugitive. Albert G. Browne, who had been one of the councillors in Governor Boutwell's administration, an earnest, hon est, impulsive, and bold man, deprecated this mode of action, and proposed to be one of forty men to go, under the lead of Dr. S. G. Howe, to the marshal in broad daylight, demand the unconditional release of Burns, and, if the demand was not complied with, rescue him at all hazards; but no definite action was taken.

On the evening of the 26th, an immense meeting was held in Faneuil Hall. It was called to order by Samuel E. Sewall, and presided over by George R. Russell, who said, on taking the chair: "We have made compromises until we find that compromise is concession and concession is degradation." Samuel G. Howe presented resolutions declaring that “God wills that all men should be free, and we will as God wills," and that “no man's freedom is safe unless all men are free." Wendell Phillips was “against squatter sovereignty in Nebraska, and kidnappers' sovereignty in Boston." He said that the question was whether or not Virginia should conquer Massachusetts. "If that man leaves Boston," he said, “Massachusetts is a conquered State." Francis W. Bird saw no remedy for the wrongs and outrages perpetrated upon them but “fight " ; and he bitterly denounced the tools of the Slave Power and the press of Boston. John L. Swift said that they had been called cowards and the sons of cowards, and they should prove themselves to be such if they allowed Anthony Burns to be taken back to bondage. “When we go," he said, “from this Cradle of Liberty, let us go to the Tomb of Liberty, the Court House. I hope to witness in his release the resurrection of liberty." Theodore Parker said that they were the " vassals of Virginia; she reaches her arms over the graves of our mothers, and kidnaps men in the city of the Puritans." “There was once a Boston," he said, " but now it is the Northern suburb of Alexandria." The slave law, he said, was declared to be a “finality”; but there was another law which was a finality, and that law “is in your hands and your arms." He thought that if they resolutely declared that this man should not go out of Boston “without shooting a gun, then he won't go back." He proposed that they should meet at Court Square the next morning, put the vote, and declared it carried.

But there were cries in favor of going that night to the Court House and the Revere House, and there was a report that a crowd of colored men and others had gathered in Court Square, and were making demonstrations upon the building. Mr. Swift, who had been in consultation with Mr. Higginson, Seth Webb, Jr., and others that were in favor of an immediate attempt at rescue, or were apprehensive that it could not be prevented, hastened to Faneuil Hall for help. There were cries among those near the doors that the Court House was attacked, and suggestive calls for an adjournment of the meeting to the scene of the apprehended assault. Mr. Phillips then made an impassioned appeal against the proposition to go to the Revere House, to attempt, he said, " the impossible feat of insulting a slave-hunter," or of assaulting the Court House that night. He eloquently pleaded for postponement till the morrow. The zeal, he said, which would not hold out till morning, “would never free a slave." Nevertheless, the meeting hastily adjourned, and some hastened to the Court House, and found that an assault had been made on the western door, which, though strongly guarded, had been battered in by a piece of heavy timber. Through the opening thus made, a negro gained for a few moments an entrance, though he was terribly beaten by those on guard. T. W. Higginson, Seth Webb, Jr., and Lewis Hayden, struggled to enter, but failed. James Batchelder, a Boston truckman who had been appointed one of the marshal's guard, was killed. The crowd fell back, and Higginson and others who were struggling at the entrance, finding themselves unsupported, besought that they should not be deserted. A. Bronson Alcott of Concord, the thoughtful student of Plato, the associate and friend of Emerson, entered the door of the Court House, and there stood for a few moments serenely amid the clubs, axes, pistols, and other implements of war.

In explanation of the failure of this attempt to rescue Burns, it ought to be stated that at a private meeting, that afternoon, of Howe, Parker, Higginson, Phillips, and others, it had been deliberately decided that no attempt at rescue should be made that evening. With such a decision the meeting broke up about six o’clock; its members pledged to each other to pre vent the Faneuil Hall meeting from being hurried into any abortive attempt at rescue. This explains the tenor of the speeches of Phillips and Parker. But during that Faneuil Hall meeting Mr. Higginson changed his mind, and obtained the promise of a few men, in the anteroom, to aid him in a rescue. Accordingly he started for the Court House, leaving a messenger to inform his friends on the platform and ask them to bring the meeting to the scene of action. This message was never delivered. Hence, when the cries were heard round the doors, they were supposed to be mere efforts to break up the meeting. Very few obeyed them; and these few, Dr. Howe among them, though making all haste, did not reach the Court House till after Mr. Higginson's attempt had ended. Indeed, of the score who had promised him their aid, very few made their appearance.

The attempt at rescue was not only a failure in itself, but it seriously complicated subsequent efforts. “It was," wrote Edmund Quincy,” a gallant and generous attempt, but ill-advised and injudicious, under the circumstances “; for it afforded just what the slave-hunter and his obsequious servitors desired, a good excuse for summoning the military to their aid, which they at once proceeded to do, by calling the marines from the Navy Yard, soldiers from Fort Independence, and the militia of Boston. Arrests were made by the Boston police. Among those arrested was Albert G. Browne, Jr., afterward Secretary to Governor Andrew and Reporter of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. He was attempting to rescue Mr. Higginson, who had been wounded in the assault, and was in danger of falling into the hands of the officials.

The excitement produced by these occurrences not only ex tended outside the limits of the city, so that large numbers flocked from the surrounding towns to witness the unwonted scenes that were transpiring in its streets, but it was largely increased by several public meetings that were held during those eventful days. The New England Antislavery Society held its annual meeting; the Free Soil State Convention also met, and, it being "anniversary week," there was a large number of clergymen in the city, at whose meetings frequent mention was made of the subject. On the day preceding the rendition there was a special meeting of ministers to take into consideration the general subject thus forcibly brought to their notice. A committee was appointed to confer with others, and stirring speeches were made by Lyman and Edward Beecher, Professor Stowe, Samuel Wolcott, and others.

It was claimed that Burns, on the night of his arrest, had made fatal admissions. But he was kept closely guarded, and no one was allowed to see or speak with him. The next day, therefore, after the hearing had been postponed, Wendell Phillips went to the commissioner for an order directing the marshal to allow him to see the prisoner. After giving the order the commissioner, who had heard only one witness, said: " Mr. Phillips, the case is so clear that I do not think you will be justified in placing any obstacle in the way of this man's going, as he probably will “; and the result proved the correctness of his anticipation, premature and questionable as it may have been. At the trial, Burns was ably defended by Mr. Dana and Mr. Ellis. At the close of the trial, Mr. Dana congratulated the court, the officers of the United States, and all concerned in the case, that the strange scenes they had witnessed were about to close. Referring to the brutal and infamous character of the marshal's special guard of more than one hundred men, taken mostly from the dens of vice, and whom the Boston " Atlas " denounced as the " dregs of society," " blacklegs and thieves," he said, that while violence and outrage reigned at and near the scenes of the trial and rendition, peace prevailed in other parts of the city.” The people," he said,” have not felt it necessary to lock their doors at night, the brothels are tenanted only by women ; fighting dogs and racing horses have been unemployed, and Ann St. and its alleys and cellars show signs of a coming millennium." Of course this fitting characterization gave offence, and one of the guard waylaid and assaulted Mr. Dana on his return to his home in company with Mr. Burlingame. But the ruffian was afterward detected, convicted, and imprisoned under circumstances presenting an extraordinary story of “the involutions of crime and of poetic justice.' Mr. Dana, in closing his plea, reminded Commissioner Loring that he was about to do an act which was to take its place in the history of America. “May your judgment," he said, " be for liberty, and not for slavery; for happiness, and not for wretchedness; for hope, and not for despair; and may the blessing of him that is ready to perish come upon you!” But the commissioner, who in this case certainly failed to give evidence that he “possessed the instincts of freedom and humanity," surrendered the unfortunate and unprotected fugitive to his claimant and to the horrors of recapture.

When this decision was made, Phillips, Parker, Dana, Ellis, and a few other antislavery men, took leave of Burns, whose tears expressed both his gratitude and sorrow. As soon as the rendition had been made, John C. Park draped his office in mourning. Some other lawyers followed his example. Six flags draped in mourning were flung from the Commonwealth building, and the venerable merchant Samuel May hung out from his store the flag, union down; Joseph K. Hayes, a Boston police officer, resigned his office rather than engage in the work of rendition.

Guarded by a large armed police and military force, Burns was taken through masses of excited and indignant citizens, and placed on board the revenue cutter Morris, ordered by President Pierce to take him to Virginia. A spectacle so sad and humiliating could not but excite feelings of indignation and deepen the popular abhorrence of a law which demanded and rendered possible such a deed. There can be no doubt that the rendition of Anthony Burns, with all the attendant circumstances, the super serviceable zeal of the Boston officials, and the unseemly alacrity of the President in ordering a national vessel to bear a single friendless man, of a proscribed race, back to that servitude from which he had so bravely but vainly striven to escape, largely contributed, in New England at least, to the overthrow of the politicians and parties that upheld the Slave Power.

When the procession, after passing through a continuous storm of contemptuous outcries and hisses, reached the wharf, Burns walked forward, surrounded by his guard and its piece of artillery, and went on board the vessel in waiting to bear him back to his prison-house of woe. Just at the moment when a body of resolute antislavery men, who had followed him to the wharf, had taken a last and sorrowful look of one whom they had vainly tried to save from the sad fate before him, the Rev. Daniel Foster, who volunteered early in the war, became an officer, and fell fighting for his country, with eyes and hands upturned, said in a voice sad and solemn: " Let us pray." "Instantly, as by a common impulse," says Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, who was present,” entire silence came over us, and this stranger poured forth a prayer that sunk deep into our hearts. He called on God, as our helper and as the giver of peace, to look upon us in our distress. He prayed for the poor slave and for the recreant republic. It is impossible to give any just idea of the effect produced upon us. Under the Divine influence, as I believe it to have been, one at least gained exceeding peace, and a determination that no slave-hunter should tread quietly the soil of Massachusetts."

From the determination then and there formed came, a few days afterward, an organization known as the " Boston Anti-man-hunting League," a secret association, with its grips and passwords ; its object being to protect the fugitive, if need be by kidnapping the kidnapper. It consisted of more than a hundred men, and was composed of lawyers, physicians, clergy men, literary men, merchants, men of ability, character, social position, and influence. Among them were Samuel May, then nearly eighty years old, Henry I. Bowditch, John A. Andrew, John L. Swift, Albert G. Browne, and his brother John W. Browne, an earnest, learned, and accomplished lawyer of Boston, a man of peace, but who had reached the conclusion that " we shall never free ourselves save by the sacrifice of blood." For eighteen months, this League was accustomed to meet once in two weeks to discuss and drill for their peculiar work. They did not arm themselves with firearms, but with “billies," now in possession of one of its members.

Their plan of operations combined both moral and material appliances. On the reception of information that kidnappers were around, some of their number were to be detailed to put themselves on their track, to take note of their movements, and to approach them with the purpose of inducing them, by stratagem or otherwise, by words of persuasion or intimidation, to relinquish their designs. But, if unsuccessful in this, they were to resort to force. To prepare themselves for this part of the programme, they were accustomed to drill themselves in the practice of seizing, holding, and hurrying away any one they wished to capture and remove. Even to such minuteness of detail did they reduce this drill, that the particular limb or part of the body was fixed upon, which each one should make the object of his special attention, and to which he should confine his movements. Considering the character of the men engaged, the religious tone and motives that marked and impelled some of them at least, there is something very suggestive in the purpose and details of those fortnightly drills; for their determination, as a last resort, to employ force impelled them, as wise and sagacious men, to make that force effective, and not to throw it away in random strokes and ill-directed movements. There was, therefore, presented the serio-comic spectacle of a company of cultivated men, occupying high social positions, leading the van of a great reform, discussing the fundamental principles on which it was based, law-abiding, yet fully recognizing the claims of a higher law, leaving for the moment the calm retreat of the school and the council to take lessons from the pugilist and wrestler, that they might put in concrete and the most effective shape the grand ideas of the reform they would carry forward. To such straits did the wise and good of those days who would obey the simplest principles of humanity feel themselves reduced by the unrighteous laws and the iniquitous legislation of the great Republic.

Indictments were found against Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips, Mr. Higginson, Martin Stowell, John Morrison, Samuel T. Proudman, and John C. Cluer. They were defended by John P. Hale, Charles M. Ellis, William L. Burt, John Andrew, and Henry F. Durant. The magnitude and dignity of the cause were well sustained by the men employed for the defence. Mr. Hale, with a national reputation, then as ever ready to raise his voice for the slave and his defenders ; Mr. Ellis, whose services were always freely given to the fugitive id his friends ; Mr. Burt, a man of uncommon organizing ability, subsequently and for many years postmaster of Boston; Mr. Andrew, afterward governor of Massachusetts and distinguished for his war record ; and Mr. Durant, who was for many years a successful lawyer of Boston, but who subsequently abandoned his profession and devoted himself and his large wealth to works of Christian beneficence, especially to founding and endowment of Wellesley College, these presented an array of legal ability and personal worth that could lot but add strength to the defence already strong in the nature of the offence alleged and in the standing of the men indicted. By agreement the case of Mr. Stowell was first taken up, as substantially representing the others; and on a motion to quash the indictment, Mr. Burt made the points and addressed the court. The district attorney having replied to the argument for quashing the indictment, Mr. Hale was to respond. But Judge Curtis intimated that there was no need of such response, and the writ was quashed, as were those against the others, and all the cases were dismissed.

The action of Judge Loring excited a deep feeling of dis satisfaction throughout the State, which soon manifested itself in various forms. Having been elected to a professor ship in Harvard College, his name came before the Board of Overseers, of which the Massachusetts Senate formed a part; but, in consequence of this widespread dissatisfaction and of the political revolution which had just swept the State, he was rejected. Petitions were then sent to the legislature, signed by several thousand names, praying for his removal from his office as judge of probate. These petitions were referred to the proper committee, which gave the subject a thorough hearing and examination. Webb, Parker, Phillips, and Ellis appeared for the petitioners, Mr. Dana, for public reasons, opposed the memorial. The committee reported an address to the governor in favor of the prayer of the petitioners, which the House adopted by a vote of two hundred and seven to one hundred and eleven, and the Senate by a vote of twenty-eight to eleven. The governor's council, by a vote of seven to two, also approved it; but Governor Gardner refused to grant the prayer. This action of the governor did not satisfy the people of Massachusetts; and after the inauguration of Mr. Banks, in 1858, the legislature adopting a similar address, the new executive responded by his removal. But the same action which rendered him odious to the people of Massachusetts commended him to the confidence of the slave holders, and to the favor of the national administration. He was nominated by President Buchanan to the office of judge of the Court of Claims, and promptly confirmed by the Senate, though strenuously opposed by the Massachusetts Senators.

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 435-444.



Chapter: “Underground Railroad. - Burr. - Work. -Thompson,” by Henry Wilson, in History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 1872.

In 1841, there occurred an event in Missouri which revealed not only the spirit and purpose of the slave-masters in that part of the country, but the sacrifices and sufferings of those "who aimed to put in practice the great law of Christian love, and to obey the precepts of the Gospel toward the lowly fugitive. For the purpose of affording cheap facilities for acquiring an education, an institution of learning, styled the Mission Institute, was established on the eastern bank of the Mississippi. Among those who. resorted to it were two young men, James E. Burr and George Thompson, who were then pursuing a course of training for the Christian ministry and Alanson Work, some forty years of age, with a wife and four children, who had taken up his residence there for the purpose of educating his children.

Deeply imbued with the spirit of freedom, they were greatly affected by the scenes of suffering and violence which were daily exhibited in Missouri; in consequence of the existence of slavery in that State. The cries for help and sighs for deliverance which were constantly coming to their ears stirred within them their deepest sympathies, and pressed upon them the inquiry whether there was not something they might and should do in their behalf. Sometime in July of that year they made an agreement with two slaves, that, if they would meet them at a certah1 point on the river, they would render them such assistance as was within their power to help them on their way to freedom. In pursuance of that purpose, Mr. Work and Mr. Burr went into Missouri to reconnoiter, and to lend such helping hand as was needed to expedite the escape of those they would aid, while Mr. Thompson remained in the boat, under the pretense of fishing, till his agency was required to transport the expected fugitives across the river.

Instead, however, of a welcome, the two were surrounded by a number of slaves, who pretended they were going with them, though they were really acting as decoys for slaveholders, who at once sprung upon them and made them prisoners. They were bound and placed in custody, while their captors started in pursuit of Mr. Thompson, whom they compelled by threats of instant death to surrender. Being bound, they were marched for several miles, amid the threats and hootings of the enraged Missourians, to a house where, tied together, they spent the night. The next day, led by slaves and escorted by fifteen horsemen, they were, taken to the Palmyra jail, and committed for slave-stealing.  Chained together and fastened to the wall, they were guarded as desperate criminals by an armed force during the whole time preceding their trial, while a slaveholder, confined for the alleged crime of murder, obtained bail and was set at liberty. Nor were any of their many friends, who called to express their sympathy and to proffer their aid; with the exception of the wife and children of Mr. Work, allowed to see or converse with them. Indeed, they were treated with the greatest indignity and with very unnecessary discomfort and cruelty.

But, deeply impressed with the righteousness of their cause and with the presence of God, they were sustained by the firm conviction that their sufferings would inure to the ultimate deliverance of the slave. As Latimer said to Ridley, when bound to the stake: " We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out," so Mr. Thompson wrote in his journal: "I have no doubt that God will kindle a fire that will burn and spread, not only through this region and State, but throughout the United States, and that will hasten the deliverance of the oppressed and the conversion of the world. 0, how unworthy am I to be the brand that shall be burned to cause this light! “That they probably overrated the significance and the results of their persecutions and sufferings, and failed to comprehend the· providential method that was ultimately to be the means for the final overthrow of slavery, did not deprive them of the comfort and support of their sublime faith in God, and the blessed assurance that even their severe discipline would work for their good.

Through the aid of friends, two lawyers--Warren of Quincy, and Wright of Palmyra --were employed as counsel; but, having no sympathy with the antislavery cause, they were unwilling to undertake the case without the assistance of another. Mr. Work was, therefore, obliged to give his note for two hundred and fifty dollars to secure the services of Mr. Glover. There were three indictments. One charged them with “stealing slaves, another with attempting to steal them, and the other with intending to make the attempt." Everything, however, about the trial was ex parte and one-sided. Eleven of the jurors confessed themselves prejudiced against the prisoners; only the witnesses summoned to testify against them were allowed to give their testimony, and they swore falsely; and then, by the admission of their enemies, they had broken no statute of Missouri. Wright, in his plea for the prisoners, thus presented the case and his position. "I appear before you," he said,” as a friend to our· institutions, as a citizen of the State, and as a slaveholder, but also a defender of justice. I believe these men were honest in their intentions, and really desired to benefit the slave. I have no doubt that they think themselves persecuted; and, should they go to the penitentiary, will feel that they are martyrs, and that their crown will shine brighter and their song rise higher on account  of what they suffer. I despise an Abolitionist, and their conduct too; but I plead that there is no law to hit the case, and, therefore, they should not be punished. Our only way is to send men to Jefferson who shall make provision for the future. Let justice take its course." His advice was so far followed that in 1845, four years later, such a law was enacted. His appeals, however, were in vain, and after a charge from the judge declaring them guilty, the jury returned a verdict of “Guilty, and twelve years in the penitentiary."

The three were at once removed to prison, where, like other prisoners, they were compelled to undergo a confinement, always and everywhere rough and rigorous enough, but in that semi-barbarous and slave-ridden region and society, unrelieved by the considerate arrangements which prison discipline requires, and the advanced civilization of the Northern and Eastern States has introduced, still more repulsive and harsh. And this was aggravated at first by the drunken frenzies of an intemperate jailer, who often made them suffer from the insane promptings of a harsh and brutal temper crazed with rum. They were, however, Christian men, who had strong faith and an unwavering trust in God, who would honor their Master, and who would do good to their fellowmen. They were consistent in their walk and work, and the light of their example, shining in the darkness, not only attracted attention, but showed how much better was virtue than vice. They won the confidence of both keepers and prisoners within their prison-walls, and secured the good-will of officials of higher rank and greater influence. They conversed with their brother prisoners, giving consolation and counsel; to the sick and dying, warning the hardened, and directing the penitent and inquiring. Among the apparent consequences of such fidelity there were one or two religious revivals, and much good seemed to be· the result of .their pious and painstaking labors. 

Their correct deportment raised up friends for them even among those who were incensed against their Abolitionism. The report gaining currency that Mr. Work's family was suffering on account of his absence, and consequent inability to minister to their necessities, softened the hearts of his persecutors, and prepared the way for a favorable application to the governor for his Release. On the 20th of January, 1845, Governor Edwards issued his proclamation remitting the further. execution of the sentence pronounced against him, " on the express condition, however, that said Work returns to the State of Connecticut, his former residence, with his wife and children, and settles himself there "; his imprisonment having continued "three years, six months, and seven days." A little more than a year later, Mr. Burr was released, without the· unjust condition of being compelled to leave the State. Mr. Thompson, being better educated, and more unreserved in the expression of his sentiments, as was exhibited in his letter to the governor and in a conversation with the Secretary of State, was treated with less leniency, and compelled to· remain longer. He was, however, finally pardoned, after an imprisonment of five years lacking nineteen days, and after being required to confess that he regretted the act for which he was punished, and promising that he would not repeat it. After his pardon was granted, there is this singular entry in his journal: '' June 14th. For the last time I collected the lambs and had another prayer-meeting. It was a blessed reviving season."

Such were the men, and such their manifest spirit and purpose, whom Missouri felt obliged to incarcerate in a felon's cell for no other crime than that of aiding two men in an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the rigors and perils of a bondage in which they were unjustly and wickedly held. And the American government, and the American church; at least as bodies, had no words of protest to enter against so barbarous a deed!

Source:  Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Vol. 2.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1872, 69-73.


BURRITT, Elihu, 1810-1879, reformer, free produce activist, advocate of compensated emancipation.

(Burritt, 1856, pp. 11-18, 30-33; Dumond, 1961, p. 350; Mabee, 1970, pp. 4, 195, 202, 203, 236, 257, 327, 329, 334, 340, 343, 363, 365, 366, 369, 372, 378, 420n1; Pease, 1965, pp. 200-205, 427; Appletons’, 1888, Vol. 1, p. 469; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 328)

BURRITT, Elihu, reformer, b. in New Britain, Conn., 8 Dec., 1810; d. there, 9 March, 1879. He was the son of a shoemaker, was educated in the common schools of his native place, and in 1828, after his father's death, was apprenticed to a blacksmith. The stories of the old revolutionary soldiers who came to his father's house had given him a desire to know more of books, and, when his apprenticeship was ended, he studied Latin, French, and mathematics with his brother, the principal of a small boarding-school. He attempted to perform the duties of a teacher as a means of support, but poor health prevented success. He returned to his forge, still continuing his studies, often watching the castings in his furnace with a Greek grammar in his hand. After beginning the study of Hebrew, he thought of going to sea and using his wages to buy oriental books at the first port, but gave up this plan, and, going to Worcester, Mass., resumed work at the anvil and the study of languages, for which the antiquarian library there gave him special facilities. Here he translated all the Icelandic sagas relating to the discovery of America, and obtained the name of the “learned blacksmith.” In 1839 he published for a year a monthly periodical to teach French, called “The Literary Gemini.” Mr. Burritt made his first public appearance in 1841 as a lecturer maintaining the doctrine that all mental attainments are the result of persistent study and effort. In 1842 he established the “Christian Citizen” at Worcester, a weekly journal, devoted to anti-slavery, peace, temperance, and self-culture. Four years later he went to Europe, and during a visit of three years devoted himself to co-operation with the English peace advocates. During this time also he developed the basis of an international association known as the League of universal brotherhood, which aimed at the abolition of war and the promotion of fraternal relations and feelings between different countries. At this time he was proprietor and editor of the “Peace Advocate,” and published a periodical tract, the “Bond of Brotherhood.” He was prominent in organizing the first peace congress, and took part in two subsequent congresses, in 1849 and 1850. In 1852 he became editor of the “Citizen of the World,” Philadelphia, in which he urged the compensated emancipation of southern slaves. His disappointment at the failure of his project was great. He had advocated it clearly and forcibly, and to its advancement had devoted all his time and resources, living at times almost in poverty. Mr. Burritt then retired to a small farm which he owned at New Britain. He made a brief visit to England in 1863, and during the following two years he published three new books and several volumes of general writings. He was appointed U. S. consul at Birmingham in 1865, returned to America in 1870, and spent the remainder of his days in his native village. He published “Sparks from the Anvil” (London, 1848); “Miscellaneous Writings” (1850); “Olive Leaves” (1853); “Thoughts of Things at Home and Abroad” (Boston, 1854); “Hand-Book of the Nations” (New York, 1856); “A Walk from John O'Groat's to Land's End” (London, 1864); “The Mission of Great Sufferings” (1867); “Walks in the Black Country” (1868); “Lectures and Speeches” (1869); “Ten Minute Talks” (1873); and “Chips from Many Blocks” (1878). See “Life of Elihu Burritt,” by Charles Northend (New York, 1879). Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888.


BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin, 1818-1893, New York, attorney, political leader, opponent of slavery, Civil War Union General, Republican member of the U.S. Congress.  Founding member and officer of the Albany auxiliary of the American Colonization Society.  As Union General, he refused to return runaway slaves to Southerners at Fort Monroe.  This led to a federal policy of calling enslaved individuals who fled to Union lines contraband of war. 


(Burin, 2005, p. 162; Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 477-478; Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, Vol. 2, Pt. 1, p. 357; Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, pp. 81, 129, 178, 224)

BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin, lawyer, b. in Deerfield, N. H., 5 Nov., 1818. He is the son of Capt. John Butler, who served under Jackson at New Orleans. He was graduated at Waterville college (now Colby university), Maine, in 1838, was admitted to the bar in 1840, began practice at Lowell, Mass., in 1841, and has since had a high reputation as a lawyer, especially in criminal cases. He early took a prominent part in politics on the democratic side, and was elected a member of the Massachusetts house of representatives in 1853, and of the state senate in 1859. In 1860 he was a delegate to the democratic national convention that met at Charleston. When a portion of the delegates reassembled at Baltimore, Mr. Butler, after taking part in the opening debates mid votes, announced that a majority of the delegates from Massachusetts would not further participate in the deliberations of the convention, on the ground that there had been a withdrawal in part of the majority of the states; and further, he added, “upon the ground that I would not sit in a convention where the African slave-trade, which is piracy by the laws of my country, is approvingly advocated.” In the same year he was the unsuccessful democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts. At the time of President Lincoln's call for troops in April, 1861, he held the commission of brigadier-general of militia. On the 17th of that month he marched to Annapolis with the 8th Massachusetts regiment, and was placed in command of the district of Annapolis, in which the city of Baltimore was included. On 13 May, 1861, he entered Baltimore at the head of 900 men, occupied the city without opposition, and on 16 May was made a major-general, and assigned to the command of Fort Monroe and the department of eastern Virginia. While he was here, some slaves that had come within his lines were demanded by their masters; but he refused to deliver them up on the ground that they were contraband of war; hence arose the designation of “contrabands,” often applied to slaves during the war. In August he captured Forts Hatteras and Clark on the coast of North Carolina. He then returned to Massachusetts to recruit an expedition for the gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi. On 23 March, 1862, the expedition reached Ship island, and on 17 April went up the Mississippi. The fleet under Farragut having passed the forts, 24 April, and virtually captured New Orleans, Gen. Butler took possession of the city on 1 May. His administration of affairs was marked by great vigor. He instituted strict sanitary regulations, armed the free colored men, and compelled rich secessionists to contribute toward the support of the poor of the city. His course in hanging William Mumford for hauling down the U. S. flag from the mint, and in issuing “Order No. 28,” intended to prevent women from insulting soldiers, excited strong resentment, not only in the south, but in the north and abroad, and in December, 1862, Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation declaring him an outlaw. On 10 May, 1862, Gen. Butler seized about $800,000 which had been deposited in the office of the Dutch consul, claiming that arms for the confederates were to be bought with it. This action was protested against by all the foreign consuls, and the government at Washington, after an investigation, ordered the return of the money. On 16 Dec., 1862, Gen. Butler was recalled, as he believes, at the instigation of Louis Napoleon, who supposed the general to be hostile to his Mexican schemes. Near the close of 1863 he was placed in command of the department of Virginia and North Carolina, and his force was afterward designated as the Army of the James. In October, 1864, there being apprehensions of trouble in New York during the election, Gen. Butler was sent there with a force to insure quiet. In December he conducted an ineffectual expedition against Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, N. C., and soon afterward was removed from command by Gen. Grant. He then returned to his residence in Massachusetts. In 1866 he was elected by the republicans a member of congress, where he remained till 1879, with the exception of the term for 1875-'7. He was the most active of the managers appointed in 1868 by the house of representatives to conduct the impeachment of President Johnson. He was the unsuccessful republican nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1871; and in 1878 and 1879, having changed his politics, was the candidate of the independent greenback party and of one wing of the democrats for the same office, but was again defeated. In 1882 the democrats united upon him as their candidate, and he was elected, though the rest of the state ticket was defeated. During his administration, he made a charge of gross mismanagement against the authorities of the Tewksbury almshouse; but, after a long investigation, a committee of the legislature decided that it was not sustained. In 1883 he was renominated, but was defeated. In 1884 he was the candidate of the greenback and anti-monopolist parties for the presidency, and received 133,825 votes. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1888.


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