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(title page) Men of Maryland
REV. GEORGE F. BRAGG, D. D.
135 p., ill.
CHURCH ADVOCATE PRESS.
Call number E185.93.m2 b8 (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
MRS. F. E. W. HARPER
[Title Page Image]
[Title Page Verso Image]
THIS VOLUME IS
TO THE BELOVED
MOTHER, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS
OF THE AUTHOR.
As a result of many years of research and investigation, embracing various volumes, ecclesiastical journals, private letters, as well as information received from the lips of some of the characters mentioned, the author has accumulated considerable data bearing upon the lives of colored men, natives of the State of Maryland, which, in his opinion, ought to be known and studied by the rising generation of colored people of Maryland. It has occurred to him that such data put into a convenient form cannot but prove interesting and helpful to all intelligent and patriotic members of the race. And, again, it is his belief that the appearance of such a volume, recording the annals of the "Men of Maryland" might incite others, lovers of the historical doings of the race, to compile like volumes, with respect to notable and distinguished colored men of the various States of the Union, and, thereby, secure, in substantial form, important historical matter pertaining to the race throughout the country, for the benefit of the generations which are to follow.
We have undertaken to present, in this volume, in addition to the historical sketches given, some important data throwing light upon the history of "black slaves," and "free blacks," in Maryland; a clear statement of the great issue of the Civil War; a few extracts from the writings of some of the characters mentioned in the book, and copies of two most important letters which made their appearance in the
year 1904, in connection with the effort to introduce "disfranchisement" and "jim-crow" conditions into this State. His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons, of the Roman Catholic Church, is the author of one of these letters, while the remaining one is from the pen of one of Maryland's most distinguished citizens, the Hon. Charles J. Bonaparte, a former Attorney-General of the United States.
We desire to specially acknowledge our debt, in the perfection of this volume, to Brackett's Negro in Maryland, Still's Underground Railroad, Bishop Payne's History of the A. M. E. Church, addresses by Dr. Crummell, and data from William Carl Bollivar, of Pennsylvania, and George W. Forbes, of Massachusetts.
Notwithstanding the immense labor involved, extending over many years, in collecting the matter for this volume, the work has afforded the author the keenest pleasure and delight. If we have succeeded in bringing together such informing and cheering facts, with respect to the past history of our people in Maryland, as will stimulate a greater appreciation for the literature of the Colored race we shall feel that our task has not been in vain.
It is not definitely known when and by whom the first African Slaves were introduced into the Colony of Maryland. In 1642 records show that Governor Calvert was bargaining with a ship-master for thirteen slaves at St. Mary's. At any rate, the increase of slaves, for awhile, was not very rapidly.
But, just as they began to increase a most interesting question came up with respect to the effect of Baptism administered to them, or to their offspring. It was held by some, that the effect of Baptism, in making them "Christians," freed them from physical bondage. That is, on being baptized they immediately became "freemen." This feeling, or conviction, greatly interfered with the increase of slavery as well as with the imparting of Christian instruction to those who had already been imported. The question occupied the minds of the local authorities, as well as the authorities in London. In 1671, an act was passed entitled "an act for the Encouraging the Importation of Negroes and Slaves," which declared that Baptism, or Conversion, should not be taken to give manumission in any way to their slaves or to their issue, who had become or should become Christians, or who had been or should be baptized, either before or after their importation to Maryland, any opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. In Virginia there was enacted, in 1667, that baptism did not
give freedom, so that diverse masters, freed from doubt, might endeavor to spread Christianity among the blacks.
By an act of 1681, children born of white women and black men, were free. After 1692, the issue of a union between any white woman with a slave or free black, became servants for a long time. A law enacted in 1715, forbade, under penalties, the marriage of a white to any black or mulatto slave. But, by this law a white and a free mulatto could marry. The law of 1717 made a free black or mulatto, except mulattoes born of white women, slaves for life. In the record office in London, in 1712, there was a list of "Christian" men and women and children, and also black slaves in Maryland. According to this list there were then, in Maryland, 38,000 whites and 8,000 blacks. In 1790, there were over 208,000 whites and nearly half as many slaves in Maryland. Of the 2,290 blacks imported into Maryland between 1699 and 1707, all but 126 were brought in London vessels.
It is interesting to note that from the very first there seemed to be a goodly number of whites who were opposed to Slavery. In various ways, this feeling and conviction was shown. Shortly after the Revolution, 1776, a concerted effort was made in the direction of the abolition of Slavery, members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, were conspicuously in the lead. In 1785, the House of Delegates of Maryland received a petition along this line, and legislation was introduced to that end, but failed of adoption. Yet, it is significant that the members of that body voting upon the proposition were very nearly equally divided. Two years later, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends sent another petition to the legislature on the subject. In 1789 the Maryland Society for Promoting the Abolition of slaves, and the Relief of poor Negroes, was organized.
One of the effects of this continued agitation was indicated in the constant increase of manumissions. An increasing number of whites were moved to set free their slaves, not a few by means of their last will and testament; and, others, were induced to permit slaves to purchase their own freedom. In 1829 a memorial from citizens of Frederick county, requesting the adoption of such legislation whereby children born of slave parents might become free at a certain time, was considered, but not adopted. The trend of affairs generally were contributing to a steady increase in the number of "free Negroes," and this condition of affairs also conspired to render more severe and cruel the lot of slaves. The presence of "free Negroes," in itself, was a constant inspiration to the slave to become dissatisfied with servitude. Then, in 1831, came the news of Nat Turner's insurrection, in Virginia, and this contributed still more to the fears of the slave-holders, and rendered them more watchful, and at the same time more cruel towards the slave. Following close upon all this was the bold attitude of William Lloyd Garrison, demanding immediate abolition. Slave laws of the greatest stringency followed fast upon each other. At the same time, all of these various conditions hastened the adoption of the "Colonization" scheme as the State policy.
The establishment of Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, was the logical outcome of the systematic agitation, all along, of humane whites with respect to the abolition of slavery which commenced soon after the first introduction of slavery into the colony of Maryland. As judged from the exigencies of the situation, at the time, they esteemed it the very best that could be accomplished, under all the circumstances, in a merciful and humane way, for the welfare of the enslaved blacks. So they finally got the
State pledged to Colonization as the State policy, and an appropriation of a certain sum of money to pay the expenses of such as volunteered to go to Africa. Many manumissions were given with the expressed condition, that, in a reasonable time, the person set free should leave Maryland for Africa. In 1843, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, of Charles county, brought a number of slaves owned by him to Baltimore, and, himself presenting them for Confirmation, in St. James' First African Church, to the late Bishop Whittingham, who administered the rite, immediately gave them their freedom on condition that they at once leave the country for Africa, which was done.
The number of free blacks in the State of Maryland was quite small until the closing of the Eighteenth Century. The census of 1790 gave eight thousand free blacks in the State. From this time the number increased. In 1807, the permanent policy of prohibiting the removal of free blacks into this State, from elsewhere, was initiated. After that time any free black coming into the State could remain no longer than two weeks. The penalty for a longer continuance was a fine of $10 a week, and being unable to pay the fine he could be sold into slavery for a term sufficient to cover the fine. Somehow, free blacks continued to come, and the statute not being generally enforced additional and more stringent legislation was enacted. Following the great uprising in Virginia, among the blacks, in 1831, laws with increasing severity of punishment were passed. A free black coming into the State, after ten days, was fined $50 a week for every week he remained, half of the money going to the informant. Any person who harbored a free black, thus coming into the State, after four days, was fined $20 a day. Any free black, a resident of the State on going out of the State, should he remain longer than thirty days, without permission, would be deemed a non-resident, and subject to all the conditions which applied to other free blacks entering the State for the first time. But, in order to encourage Colonization, any black could come or go at will between Maryland and Liberia, West Africa.
English women, the servant class, were early imported into the Colony, and were in limited slavery. That is, they were constrained to remain in service for a term of years, in payment of the expense in bringing them to this country. Quite a number of them married black men. The colony of Maryland was established in 1634, and as early as 1664 a law was enacted giving penalties for "such shameful matches," that is, marriage between a white person and a black slave. Such marriages were also forbidden between white women and free blacks. Penalties were specified for the Master who permitted such affiliation, and also the minister officiating. They were fined, each, ten thousand pounds of Tobacco. The law of 1717 is a little curious on this subject. A free black, or mulatto, marrying a white woman would become a slave for life. But, mulattoes, born of white women, should serve only for seven years. In 1777, by the Militia law free blacks were excluded from service, but in 1790 they were specifically included. In 1793 the same Militia law again limits service to white men.
The education of free blacks, and slaves, was not forbidden by law, in Maryland, but, nevertheless, such enterprises depended upon individuals and members of the Society of Friends. As far back as 1761 the Rev. Thomas Bacon, a clergyman of the Church of England inaugurated a free school for black children in Frederick county. And even long before this time, the same clergyman had inaugurated a school in Talbot county for the poorer classes of both races. Of this effort, Mr. Lawrence C. Wroth, assistant Librarian of the Pratt Library, Baltimore, in a published essay, some years ago among other things, said:
"Mr. Bacon had set an example in the Province in regard to the Christian education of Negro slaves which was
not generally to be followed by either clergy or laity for many generations. It was probably his work among the Negroes which led to the project of founding a sort of manual training or industrial school for poor children. In a subscription paper circulated in 1750, he remarks upon the 'profaneness and debauchery, idleness and immorality . . . especially among the poorer sort in this province' and asks for yearly subscriptions, 'for setting up a Charity Working School in the Parish of St. Peter's, in Talbot county, for maintaining and teaching poor children to read, write and account, and instructing them in the knowledge and practice of the Christian religion, as taught in the Church of England.' A few months later he had received from a goodly list of subscribers, among them the Proprietary and Lady Baltimore, Cecelius Calvert and Bishop Wilson, a sufficient fund for the running expenses, and in the course of a few years his subscriptions permitted the purchase of one hundred acres of land and the erection of a suitable brick home and school. Thus, in the year 1755, and for many thereafter, Talbot county boasted a fine charity school, but thirty years later, when Bacon and nearly all of the original trustees were dead it was turned over to the county for use as a poor house. The institution seems to have been born before its time in so far as Maryland was concerned."
Daniel Coker, a mulatto, whose freedom was purchased by friends, conducted quite a large and flourishing day school for free blacks in the city of Baltimore, previous to the year 1816. In 1824, the Rev. William Levington, founder and rector of St. James' First African Protestant Episcopal Church, initiated a free school which was continued, in connection with that church, until long after the close of the Civil War. A Rev. Mr. Watkins, an African Methodist minister, also conducted a day school in the
city of Baltimore, for black children; and there were several other such enterprises. From the census of 1860, we learn that there were 1,355 free black children attending school in the State. There were a number of free colored men who owned their wives, and children. They held them in such state to more effectually secure their freedom. There were also a few blacks who owned and hired slaves. Mention is made of a free black of Dorchester county receiving payment for a slave whom he had bought for a term of years, and who was sold out of the State, for crime, by the court. Colored persons, free or slaves, could testify in court, for or against any colored person, but not in any case where a white person was concerned. The child of a white man and a mulatto slave was incapable of witnessing against a white person; but the child of a black man and a white woman--there were not a few cases of such offspring--was qualified as a witness, during the limited time he was put to service. This was up to 1717.
In 1847, there was a very estimable colored man, the Steward of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, whose wife and children were residing in Philadelphia. Permission for such to visit the husband, and father, was conditioned on their residing in Annapolis, and they should remain only so long as the Steward remained in his present job. A Washington firm conducted a Summer Resort in St. Mary's county. This firm was only privileged to carry its colored help there on the condition that they should be restricted to the grounds; and when the season was over should immediately return to the city of Washington. A free black woman was fined $250 for five weeks' stay in Maryland, and sold into slavery for a term of years, in default of not being able to pay the fine. Color always created the presumption that a black was a slave. It was
up to him to prove that he was a "free black." The Maryland Abolition Society (1789) interested itself greatly in preventing the unlawful "kidnapping" of free black children, who were sold into slavery.
The constitution of 1776 guaranteed the right to vote to all freemen, of age, and who held a certain amount of property. Under this constitution there were quite a number of colored men who exercised the right of franchise; but under the amended constitution of 1810 the suffrage was strictly limited to white men. The "free" black had the right of petition, and it is a significant fact that this right was most frequently used. It was through "petition" to the legislature that many evils were mitigated on their behalf. A considerable number of free blacks owned small houses, and pieces of land. Some of the Banks received deposits from free blacks. In Annapolis there were several black depositors and one owned shares of the Bank stock.
In 1831, all colored persons were forbidden to assemble or to attend meetings for religious purposes which were not conducted by a white licensed clergyman or by some respectable white of the neighborhood authorized by the clergyman.
In 1842, it was enacted that any free colored person convicted of becoming or continuing to be a member of any secret society whatever, whether it held its meetings in Maryland, or without, should be deemed a felon, and be fined not less than $50. In default of payment, he should be sold for a term sufficient to pay the fine. For the second offense he should be sold out of the State as a slave for life. In 1845, colored Camp-meetings, and similar outdoor gatherings, were strictly and rigidly forbidden.
In the constitutional convention of 1850-51, a Mr.
Jacobs, of Worcester county, became the author of a bill before the State Legislature which was generally known as the "Jacobs' law," and which stirred the free blacks as, perhaps, no other measure had ever aroused them. Through strenuous efforts the bill was defeated. It had for its object the elimination of all "free" persons of color. Among some of the provisions of this measure were the following: No black should be capable of acquiring real estate in the future; he could not by lease hold any property longer than a year; no free black was permitted to enter the State to remain; no black should be manumitted except on condition that he would leave the State within thirty days. A second "Jacobs' bill" was adopted by the Legislature of 1860, but ere it became effective had to be submitted to the voters of the State at the next ensuing election. This last measure, happily, was defeated by the action of the people. Somerset county was the only county in the State where the bill received a majority of the votes cast. In this last measure manumission was absolutely forbidden, and the way made easy for the return of "free blacks" into slavery.
It was in Baltimore that William Lloyd Garrison began the publication of his paper, "The Genius of Universal Emancipation," declaring that to hold slaves longer in bondage was both unnecessary and tyrannical, that justice demanded their liberation, and that to recompense slave-owners for emancipation would be paying a thief for giving up stolen property. This was in 1829-30. Most stringent laws were passed, with exceedingly heavy fines and imprisonment, for any person, white or black, who in any way aided in the circulation of abolition literature. These laws were particularly severe upon "free blacks." Any such person upon whom such literature was found or who
called for, or received at the postoffice, any such literature, upon conviction, was liable to imprisonment from ten to twenty years. And if any one knew that a person received or possessed such literature, he was liable to a fine of $500 and two months in jail if he failed to report the same.
In Dorchester county, at the April term of the Circuit Court, 1857, a free black was tried before the court on two indictments. On one of these he was found not guilty, but, on the other for knowingly having in his possession a copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," he was given the minimum term of ten years. But, this man, in 1862, on the representation of a prominent citizen of Baltimore, that he had been innocent of any attempt at violation of the law, was pardoned by the Governor of Maryland, on the condition of his leaving the State. It was claimed that the book was left in his house by some one who desired to get him into trouble.
John Wesley characterized Slavery as "The sum of all villainies." Certainly, it was an extremely degrading institution. The early founders of the Republic soon realized the enormity of the evil. They endeavored to overthrow it, but failed. As it began to be immensely profitable to the people living in the southern section of the country, its roots became firmly entrenched, and, finally, involved the nation in one of the most distressing and painful civil wars in the annals of history.
In 1773, Patrick Henry said: "A serious view of this subject gives a gloomy prospect to future times." The same year, George Mason wrote to the Virginia Legislature: "The laws of impartial Providence may avenge our injustice upon our posterity." Adjusting his conduct to his convictions, Thomas Jefferson, in Virginia, and in the Continental Congress, with the approval of Edmund Pendleton, branded the slave trade as piracy; and he fixed in the Declaration of Independence, as the corner-stone of America: "All men are created equal with an unalienable right to liberty." In laboring in the direction of Emancipation, Jefferson encountered exceedingly great difficulties, and was forced to exclaim: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." It was the desire of the heart of George Washington that Virginia should remove slavery by a public act; and as hope grew more dim, he did all that he
could by bequeathing freedom to his own slaves. Madison said: "Slavery is the greatest evil under which the nation labors--a portentous evil--and an evil moral, political and economical--a sad blot on our free country." Old age found him with the lamentation: "No satisfactory plan has yet been devised for taking out the stain."
"A new generation," says Bancroft, the historian, "sprang up, impatient that an institution to which they clung should be condemned as inhuman, unwise and unjust. In the throes of discontent at the self-reproach of their fathers, and blinded by the lustre of wealth to be acquired by the culture of a new staple, they devised the theory that slavery, which they would not abolish, was not evil, but good. They turned on the friends of Colonization, and confidently demanded: 'Why take black men from a civilized and Christian country, where their labor is a source of immense gain, and a power to control the markets of the world, and send them to a land of ignorance, idolatry, and indolence, which was the home of their fore-fathers, but not theirs? Slavery is a blessing. Were they not in their ancestral land naked, scarcely lifted above brutes, ignorant of the course of the sun, controlled by nature? And in their new abode have they not been taught to know the difference of the seasons, to plow and plant and reap, to drive oxen, to tame the horse, to exchange their scanty dialect for the richest of all the languages among men, and the stupid adoration of follies for the purest religion. And since Slavery is good for the blacks, it is good for their masters, bringing opulence and the opportunity of educating a race. The Slavery of the black is good in itself; he shall serve the white man forever." And nature which better understood the quality of fleeting interest and passion, laughed as it caught the echo, 'man' and 'forever.' "
By and by, the issue was forced. A slave was not a person, but "property." If such a black "property" came into a free state it was contended that he could be treated the same as though he were a horse or a mule, and his "master" could go anywhere in the country and recover his property. The matter was carried to the Supreme Court. What followed we shall let the historian, Bancroft, tell. Says Bancroft:
"The Chief Justice of the United States, without any necessity or occasion, volunteered to come to the rescue of the theory of slavery; and from his court there lay no appeal, but to the bar of humanity and history. Against the Constitution, against the memory of the nation, against a previous decision, against a series of enactments he decided that the slave is property; that slave property is entitled to no less protection than any other property; that the Constitution upholds it in every Territory against any act of a local Legislature and even against Congress itself; or, as the President for that term tersely promulgated the saying: "Kansas is as much a slave State as South Carolina or Georgia; slavery, by virtue of the Constitution, exists in every Territory." Bancroft continues: "Moreover, the Chief Justice, in his elaborate opinion, announced what had never been heard from any magistrate of Greece, or Rome; what was unknown to civil law, and feudal law, and common law and constitutional law; unknown to Jay, to Rutledge, Ellsworth, and Marshall--that there are 'slave races.' "
The crisis had come. To the people the issue was carried. The party of Mr. Jefferson Davis maintained that a colored person was not a "person," in the ordinary use of that word. That such was "property," and, as such, should be protected in the same essential manner as a horse or a
mule, in any and every section of the country. That is, if a colored person, say of Alabama, by some means made his way to Pennsylvania, this human "property" should be just as secure to his "owner" as though he were in Alabama. It was the duty of the government to return such human "property" to his owner, in the same manner as though he had been a horse that had gotten at large. When it was perceived by a number of white people, living in the Southern section of the country, that the greater part of the nation were not disposed to take such a view with respect to human "property," then, many of the Southern States concluded that they would peacefully withdraw from the Union, and set up a central government for themselves, the "corner-stone" of which new government should be the perpetual slavery of the people of African descent. Mr. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the late Confederate States, declared most plainly this purpose.
But, the party of Mr. Abraham Lincoln resolutely objected to such procedure. Mr. Lincoln maintained that no State could withdraw from the Union. The Southern people claimed that they had the right to withdraw; Mr. Lincoln solemnly denied the existence of such a right. The Civil War was the result. The object of the Southerners was to emancipate themselves from the Union, while that of the party of Lincoln was to force them to remain in the Union. The Emancipation of slaves issued from the controversy. The position assumed by the party of Lincoln is most aptly stated by Mr. Lincoln himself in his first Message to Congress, a portion of which follows:
"Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution--no one of them having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the old ones each
came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted by the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the 'United Colonies' were declared to be 'free and Independent States;' but, even then, the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and after wards abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual, is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of 'States' Rights,' asserting a claim of power lawfully to destroy the Union itself? The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from this they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever independence or liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and in turn the Union threw off their old dependence for them, and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State Constitution independent of the Union. . . . What is now combatted is the position that secession is consistent with the Constitution--is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing
should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased with money the countries out of which several of these States were formed; is it just that they shall go off without leave and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes; is it just that she shall now be off without consent or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding States in common with the rest; is it just either that creditors shall go unpaid or the remaining States pay the whole? A part of the national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas; is it just that she shall leave and pay no part of this herself?
"Again, if one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded, none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain. The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have assumed to make a national Constitution of their own, in which, of necessity, they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as they insist it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, by their own construction of ours, they show that to be consistent they must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration, upon which no government can possibly endure."
The cause of the Union prevailed. In accomplishing such victory it became necessary, as a war measure, for the President to declare "forever free" the "human property" held as such, by those who had taken up arms against the Union. And so "freedom" came. While, technically, the war was waged to preserve the Union, yet "freedom of the slaves" was inseparably connected with the preservation of the Union.
Ira Frederick Aldridge was born in Bel Air, Maryland, in 1804. About the year 1826 he became the "valet" of the celebrated actor, Edmund Keene. Aldridge soon discovered that he would like to be an actor, and Keene encouraged him. During the latter part of the thirties, in company with Mr. Keene, he left the country for Europe where a magnificent career awaited him. "The Black Roscius," as he was called, created such a furor as a tragedian, that he was frequently carried from the theatres where he performed upon the shoulders of his enthusiastic auditors to his hotel. He was loaded down with medals, insignia of the various royal orders, the gifts of Kings and Queens whom he had charmed and delighted by his magnificent impersonations of the characters he assumed.
He performed in the principal cities of Europe, and it is recorded of him that when he played Iago in the city of Moscow, in Russia, a number of students who had witnessed the performance unhitched the horses from the actor's carriage, after the play, and dragged him in triumph to his lodgings. In Sweden and Germany, and England, his name was a household word. He stood in the front rank with the greatest actors of his day, and the nobility of England held him in the same regard and treated him with the same consideration that Americans bestowed upon Keene, or Booth, or any other great actor who had made himself famous. Ira Aldridge gave no performance in Europe
which was not witnessed by one or more members of the royal family of the country he was in. In personal appearance he was very dark in complexion, with a full, round face which was covered with a closely shaven beard. He was nearly six feet in height. He had large lustrous eyes and a resonant voice, which he kept under perfect control. As Aaron, in "Titus Adronicus," and as the Moor, in "Othello," he established his fame as the most realistic actor who up to that period had ever assumed those roles. The newspapers of that period showered unstinted praise upon this remarkable colored man, and he was lionized in fashionable society and feted by the nobility; the king of Sweden knighted him, and the Emperor of Russia conferred a decoration upon him. His medals and decorations from other personages were estimated at the time of his death, 1867, to be worth over $250,000. Aldridge owned nine villas, situated in various parts of Europe, and each of them handsomely furnished. His principal residence was in the city of London, England, where he entertained in a royal manner the legions of friends who sought his company and that of his charming wife, a Swedish baroness, by whom he had three children. He died in 1867 as Sir Ira Aldridge, K. C. M., and a host of other titles given him at various times.
Benjamin Banneker, the Negro astronomer and scientist, was born in Baltimore county, near Ellicott's Mills, on the 9th of November, 1732. Banneker's grandmother was a white woman, Mary Welch, who was sent out from England, and, who, having served her master for seven years, purchased a farm and two black slaves. One of these slaves she married. Benjamin seems to have been quite a favorite of his grandmother who taught him how to read. About the same time there was a "pay school" in the neighborhood to which a few colored children were admitted. A part of Benjamin's education was secured in this school.
Very early in life Banneker showed fondness for mechanical knowledge. He became much interested in the construction of the Mills which were then being erected nearby. Mr. George Ellicott was very much drawn towards Banneker, and gave him the use of his library, and such mechanical tools as were available. In 1754, Banneker constructed a clock, which not only told the time of day, but struck the hour. Through correspondence, Banneker became acquainted with scientific men in all parts of the world. Upon invitation of the Commissioner, he assisted in the laying out of the District of Columbia. After his return from this work, in 1791, he got out his first almanac, for the year 1792. Before it went to press, he sent a manuscript copy to Thomas Jefferson, seeking to interest Mr. Jefferson in the freedom of the slave. The
letter is here given, together with the reply which it elicited from Mr. Jefferson:
Maryland, Baltimore County,
Near Ellicott's Lower Mills, August 19, 1791.
To Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, Philadelphia:
Sir--I am fully sensible of the greatness of that freedom which I take on the present occasion, a liberty, which to me scarcely allowable, when I reflect on that distinguished and honorable station in which you stand, and the almost general prejudice and prepossession which is prevalent in the world against those of my complexion.
I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world, that we have long been considered rather brutish, than as human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments.
Sir, I hope I may with safety admit, in consequence of that report which hath reached me, that you are a man far less inflexible in sentiments of this nature than many others; that you are measurably friendly, and ready to lend your aid and assistance to our relief, from the many distresses and numerous calamities to which we are reduced. Now, Sir, if this is founded in truth I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevail with respect to us; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are--that one Universal Father hath given being to us all, and that He hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that He hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations, and that, however variable we may be in society and religion, however diversified in situation and color, we are all of the same family and stand in the same relation to Him.
Sir, if these sentiments, of which you have long been persuaded fully, I hope you cannot but acknowledge that it is the indispensable duty of those who maintain for themselves the rights of human nature, and who profess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race, from whatever burden or oppression they unjustly labor under; and this I apprehend a full conviction of the truth and obligation of these principles should lead us all to.
Sir, I have long been convinced that if your love for yourselves and for those inestimable laws which preserve to you the rights of human nature, was founded on sincerity, you could not but be solicitous that every individual, of whatever distinction, might enjoy equally with you the blessings thereof; neither could you rest satised short of the most active diffusion of your exertions, in order to their promotion from any state of degradation to which the unjustifiable cruelty and barbarism of men may have reduced them.
Sir, I freely and cheerfully acknowledge that I am of the African race; and, in that color which is natural to them, of the deepest dye; and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe that I now confess to you that I am not under that state of tyrannical thraldom and inhuman captivity to which too many of my brethren are doomed; but that I have abundantly tasted of the fruition of those blessings which proceed from that free and unequal liberty with which you are favored, and which I hope you will willingly allow you have received from the immediate Hand of that Being from whom proceedeth "every good and perfect gift."
Sir, suffer me to call to your mind that time in which
the arms and tyranny of the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude. Look back, I entreat you, to the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that time in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation.
You cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of Heaven.
This, Sir, was a time in which you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition; it was now, Sir, that your abhorrence thereof was so excited that you publicly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that amongst these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Here, Sir, was a time in which your tender feelings for yours engaged you thus to declare; you were then impressed with a proper idea of the just valuation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings to which you were entitled by nature, but Sir, how pitiable it is to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of His equal and impartial distribution of those rights and privileges which He had conferred upon them, that you should, at the same time, counteract His mercies, in detaining by
fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning captivity and oppression; that you should, at the same time, be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others with respect to yourselves.
Sir, I suppose that your knowledge of the situation of my brethren is too extensive to need a recital here; neither shall I presume to prescribe methods by which they may be relieved, otherwise than by recommending to you, and to all others, to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to them, and as Job proposed to his friends, "Put your souls in their souls' stead." Thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them, and thus shall you need neither the direction of myself nor others in what manner to proceed therein.
And now, Sir, although my sympathy and affection for my brethren hath caused my enlargement thus far, I ardently hope that your candor and generosity will plead with you in my behalf, when I make known to you that it was not originally my design, but having taken up my pen in order to direct to you, as a present, a copy of an Almanac which I have calculated for the ensuing year, I was unexpectedly led thereto.
This calculation, Sir, is the production of my arduous study in this, my advanced stage of my life; for having long had undoubted desires to become acquainted with the secrets of nature, I have had to gratify my curiosity therein, through my own assiduous application to astronomical study, in which I need not recount to you the many difficulties and disadvantages I have had to encounter.
And though I had almost declined to make my calculations for the ensuing year, in consequence of the time I
had allotted thereto, being taken up at the Federal Territory, by the request of Mr. Andrew Ellicott; yet finding myself under several engagements to printers of this state, to whom I had communicated my design, on my return to my place of residence, I industriously applied myself thereto, which I hope I have accomplished with correctness and accuracy, a copy of which I have taken the liberty to address to you, and which I hope you will favorably receive, and although you may have the opportunity of perusing it after its publication, yet I choose to send it to you in manuscript previous thereto, that thereby you might not only have an earlier inspection, but that you might also view it in my own hand-writing.
And now, Sir, I shall conclude, and subscribe myself with the most profound respect,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
To Mr. Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
Mr. Jefferson at once replied and said: "Sir:--I thank you sincerely for your letter and the Almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit that Nature has given to our black brethren talent equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of the want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa and America."
Scipio Beanes was born in Prince George's county, Maryland, in the year 1793. When he was about twenty years of age, he removed to the city of Washington. Beanes was born a slave, and having obtained permission of his master to attend a school conducted in that county, he obtained the elementary principles of an English education. In 1818, his master made him a present of his freedom. The next year he married a Miss Harriet Bell, of Washington. About the first of the year, 1825, Beanes "experienced a change of heart," and united with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Sometime after, having been commissioned by the local church as an "exhorter," still later, he was commissioned by Bishop Allen to make a visitation of the churches on the Eastern Shore. His work there was quite successful. He remained laboring in this work as long as his health permitted, "but his delicate constitution, the severity of the winter, and the bad accommodations which were afforded, compelled him to abandon the field and return home. In his homeward journey the snow was so deep that he was compelled to quit the saddle, and on foot pursue his journey, leading his horse nearly the whole distance from Annapolis to Washington." He was seized with deep pulmonary affection, and he was advised by his physician to seek some warmer climate. In 1826, he left for Portau Prince, Haiti, to improve his health. He remained there one year, his health improving,
and in the meantime he performed valuable missionary services. On his return to this country, he met the General Conference, and he was commissioned as a regular missionary to Haiti from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1828 he returned to Haiti. After a year or so there he again returned to this country, and in 1832 he went back to Port au Prince, "the Lord blessing his labors in the souls added to the Church." Of him, Bishop Payne, the historian of the A. M. E. Church, further says:
"His health improved at first, then began to fail. He was a great sufferer, but a patient, uncomplaining one, and without flinching he continued to labor. It was his wife's desire to return home, but the rapid encroachments of the disorder prevented this, and he was content to remain and die in Haiti, saying:
"Heaven is as near to Port au Prince as to Washington." He literally finished his life and his labors together, for we are told that he had baptized and administered the Lord's Supper on a Sabbath (January 12, 1835), and went home to Heaven the next morning at dawn, in the 42nd year of his age. He was generally beloved by the people, it seems, and esteemed as well. We are told that he performed the marriage of the French ambassador, Mr. Denny, himself a Methodist. His labors were confined, so said his wife, entirely to the city of Port au Prince, because his health did not permit him to travel over the Island. So much we know of the life and death of our first worker in the foreign missionary field of the West Indies."
In view of conditions associated with human slavery it is not at all strange that definite data with respect to the birth of a number of colored men, who afterwards became distinguished, is most difficult to obtain. However, there can scarcely be any doubt that Daniel Coker was born in Frederick County, Maryland during the latter part of the eighteenth century. He was on hand in sufficient time to be identified with the very "fathers of Methodism," in this country. It so happened that a widowed white woman, Susan Coker, having already a son by her first husband, took for her second husband a colored slave. From this union there was born a colored boy, who was known, for a long while, as "Isaac Wright." There grew up an affectionate fondness between the white and the colored boy, half-brothers. The white son of Susan Coker positively refused to go to school unless Isaac accompanied him.
So Isaac had to go as his "valet." In the long run, Isaac got more out of the schooling than his white half-brother. Isaac was very studious, and wonderfully improved the opportunity. He mastered the higher branches, as well as the classics. As a result of this remarkable achievement Isaac became a little seminary of learning in himself. He ran off and got to New York. He soon came into contact with Bishop Asbury of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In course of time, Bishop Asbury ordained him. After spending some time in New York, he finally made up his mind to come to Baltimore. But, in the eyes of the law of Maryland he was still a slave. He kept in secret in Baltimore until friends had raised sufficient money with which to purchase his freedom. With freedom came increased activity and boldness. For a long while he taught school in connection with Sharp St. Church. His school increased from a few pupils, when he began, until it reached more than one hundred and fifty previous to his closing of the same. While in this work he became the author of a financial plan which raised a considerable sum for Sharp St. Church. He educated a score of the best educated colored men of that early day, conspicuous among the number was the Rev. William Douglass, afterwards rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Philadelphia. But, his real work, that by which his name will be perpetuated, was the organization of "Bethel African Church" Baltimore, and, later, the conspicuous part he took in the organization of the connection of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816.
It was upon the advice and encouragement of Daniel Coker that a number of persons drew out of Sharp St. Church, and under his direction, organized "Bethel." But we should have stated that when he ran away to New York, in order to evade slave-hunters, and being returned into slavery, he discarded the name of "Isaac Wright" and assumed that of Daniel Coker. By this he was ever afterwards known. When the 16 persons assembled in April, 1816, in the city of Philadelphia to organize the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Daniel Coker was the "brain" of that historic convention. All the rest were, practically, illiterate. Coker had the distinction of being the first colored man ever
elected as a Bishop in America. He was elected Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church immediately following its formation. But, the next day he declined the election, and Richard Allen was thereupon elected to the same office. While Coker was a brainy man, there was hardly a comparison of him with Richard Allen along the line of piety and strong character. As far back as 1810 Daniel Coker published, in the city of Baltimore, a booklet on the Slavery Question. The title page runs in the following language:
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN A VIRGINIAN AND AN
Written by the Rev. Daniel Coker, a Descendent of Africa,
Minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
in Baltimore, Humbly Dedicated to the People of
Color in the United States of America.
This little volume contains about forty-three pages. After the slavery argument is finished, the writer gives a "List of the Names of African Local Preachers" at that time in the United States. The author also informs us that the number of African Methodists in the United States at that period was 31,884.
Dr. Martin R. Delaney gives Coker the credit for originating the plan folowed later by Garrison in the Abolition Movement.
In 1820, Daniel Coker left the country, among the first band of emigrants, to find a home and untrameled freedom in Africa. In one of the early epistles coming from Liberia, Daniel Coker writes: "We have met trials; we are but a handful; our provisions are running low; we are in
a strange, heathen land; we have not heard from America, and know not whether provisions or people will be sent out; yet, thank the Lord, my confidence is strong in the veracity of his promises. Tell my brethren to come; fear not; this land is good; it only wants men to possess it. I have opened a little Sabbath-school for native children. Oh, it would do your hearts good to see the little naked sons of Africa around me. Tell the Colored People to come up to the help of the Lord. Let nothing discourage the Society or the Colored People."
Upon the death of the regular officer of the colonists, Mr. Coker was in charge of affairs. Sometime after he had given up this work, he emigrated from Liberia to the British colony of Sierra Leon. There he planted a church, and reared a family. The late Bishop Payne says:
"The building in which his congregation worshiped is still (in 1852) standing; it is built of stone, and is one of the largest in the city of Freetown. Besides the pulpit is a tablet bearing a memorial of his life and death. Two of his sons grew up to manhood. One of them became a successful trader with the natives of the interior, and at his death endowed his father's church; the other was living as late as 1861, and was then inspector of police at Sierra Leon."
Frederick Douglass is, possibly, the best known and most distinguished of the "Men of Maryland." Although the exact date of his birth is not definitely known, yet it is agreed that he was born in the month of February, 1817, at Tuckahoe, near Easton, Talbot county, Maryland. His mother was a slave, and his father was a white man, whom he never knew. He never saw his mother after his eighth year. When he was ten years of age, his master Col. Lloyd, "lent" him to a friend in Baltimore. In Baltimore he worked at the trade of a ship-carpenter. When he was fifteen years of age his master permitted him to hire his own time, which he did, paying three dollars a week. As a very small boy Frederick had a keen thirst for knowledge, which had been stimulated by hearing his mistress read the Bible. Yielding to importunity, his mistress began to instruct him, but so rapid was his progress that such instruction was soon discounted. But, alas, discontinuance was too late. He had gotten a start. In his early years, the Bible, and a copy of the "Columbian Orator" were his chief books of study. For a good while had Douglass been meditating making his escape from bondage. Having armed himself with a "pass" belonging to some one else, on September 3, 1838, leaving Washington he took a train to New York, and managed to get through without any trouble. Upon arriving there, he soon set out for New Bedford, Mass. Up to this time, he was known as "Frederick Lloyd," his real name, but in order not to be detected, caught, and returned to slavery, he changed his name to "Frederick Douglass." Here he worked, at first, around the wharves as a common laborer. He became a factor in the local colored church, and was soon licensed as a local preacher in the African Church. It was in New Bedford
that the married his first wife.
In 1841, at an Anti-Slavery Convention held in Nantucket, which he attended, so great and prevailing was the impression of his eloquence, that he was appointed the Agent of the Society for Massachusetts. During the next few years, his work, in that direction, was with telling effect. Everywhere enthusiasm was intensified and the cause greatly advanced. In 1845, Frederick Douglass was invited, by distinguished Englishmen, to visit that country, and deliver addresses in behalf of the Anti-Slavery cause. He readily accepted the invitation, and spent two years there lecturing on behalf of his enslaved brethren in America. He swept everything before him. Ovation after ovation was his.
Having run away from slavery, in the eyes of the law of this country he was still a slave. So Englishmen raised a purse of $750 for the purchase of his freedom, and $2,500 with which to set him up in the newspaper business. Thus, on his return to America, he changed his residence from New Bedford to Rochester, N. Y., and in the latter place commenced the publication of his weekly paper, "Frederick Douglass Paper," afterwards changed to the "North Star." Thus, he continued in the Anti-Slavery cause, with both voice and paper. He thrilled the multitudes by his eloquence, and edified them through the columns of the "North Star." The good work continued until emancipation came.
The grand old man who had battled so nobly for the cause of freedom, with the close of the Civil War, changed his residence from Rochester to Washington. For the ensuing quarter of a century he was the great figure in the life of the colored community of the city of Washington. During this period, while filling public office, he was in constant
demand, all over the country, as a public lecturer. In 1871, he was appointed assistant secretary of the San Domingo Commission. In 1872, President Grant appointed him a member of the territorial council of the District of Columba. During the campaign, preceding the second election of General Grant, as President, Frederick Douglass was a Presidential Elector, at large, for the State of New York. He was designated to carry the vote of New York State to Washington. In 1876, President Hayes appointed him United States Marshal for the District of Columbia. From 1881 to 1886, he was Recorder of Deeds of the District. In 1889, President Harrison appointed him United States Minister to the Republic of Haiti. He resigned that office in 1891. His death occurred on the evening of February 20th, 1895, at his home in Anacostia. His funeral was a most imposing event, and took place from Metropolitan A. M. E. Church on the 25th of February.
In connection with his death, an incident worthy of note was the adjournment of the North Carolina State Legislature out of respect to his demise, when the news of the same reached that body. At that time, the Republicans were in control in that state. But a few days before, the same body had refused to adjourn out of respect to the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. The matter of adjournment, with respect to the death of Frederick Douglass, was an occasion for debate, and was carried by a strict party vote.
The Sixth Annual Commencement of the Colored High School, of Baltimore, took place in the Academy of Music, on Friday evening, June 22, 1894. There were eleven
members of the graduating class, and the Honorable Ferdinand C. Latrobe, Mayor of Baltimore, delivered the diplomas. Mr. Douglass was the orator of the evening. This was his last public address in the city of his early childhood. Among other things, on that memorable occasion, he said in part:
"The Colored People of this country have, I think, made a great mistake of late in saying so much of race and color as a basis of their claims to justice, and as the chief motive of their efforts and action. I have always attached more importance to manhood than to mere identity with any variety of the human family. Since emancipation we hear much from our modern colored leaders about race pride, race love, and race effort, race superiority, race men and the like. One is praised for being a race man, and another is condemned for not being a race man. The object is good, but the method is bad. It is an effort to cast out Satan by Beelzebub. The evils that are now crushing us to earth have their root and sap in this narrow spirit of race and color, and we have no more right to foster it than men of any other race. I recognize and adopt no such narrow basis for my thoughts, feelings, or my motives of action. It was not the race or the color of the Negro that won for him the battle of liberty. That great battle was won, not because the victim of slavery was a Negro, but because the Negro is, and of right ought to be, a man--a brother to all other men, a child of the common Father of mankind, and, therefore, to be recognized as a subject of government, and entitled to justice, liberty and equality before the law, to education and to an equal chance with all other men in the race of life and in the pursuit of happiness.
"Hence, at the risk of being deficient in the quality of
love and loyalty to race and color, I have in my advocacy of our case, had more to say of manhood, and what is comprehended in manhood, than of the accident of race and color.
"We should never forget that the ablest and most eloquent voices ever raised in behalf of the black man's cause were the voices of white men. Not for race, not for color, but for man and for manhood they labored, fought, and died. Away, then, with the nonsense that a man must be black to be true to the rights of black men.
"A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing but the want of learning is a calamity to any people, and to no people more than to the Colored People of this country. Ignorance for us means poverty, and poverty means degradation, and degradation brings contempt and persecution. There is no time in our history that I would prefer to the present. The existence of this High School in the city of Baltimore is a triumphant rebuke to any cry of despair. It is a type of institution in nearly all of the Southern States, and which are multiplying all over the country. But, it is said that we are now being greatly persecuted. I admit it. Attempts are being made to set aside the amendments of the Constitution, to wrest from us the elective franchise, to exclude us from respectable railroad cars, to draw the color line against us in religious organizations, and to make us a proscribed class. The resistance we now meet is the proof of our progress.
"The resistance is not to the colored man as a slave, a servant or menial. It is aimed at the Negro as a man, a gentleman and a scholar. The Negro in ignorance and in rags, meets no resistance. He is rather liked. He is thought to be in his place. It is only when he acquires education, property and influence, only when he attempts to rise and be a man among men that he invites repression.
Even in the laws of the South, excluding him from railroad cars and other places, care is taken to allow him to ride as a servant, a valet or porter.
"It is not the Negro but the quality in which he comes which makes him an offense or otherwise. In one quality he is smiled upon as a very serviceable animal. In the other he is scorned as an upstart, entirely out of his place, and is made to take a back seat. I am not much disturbed by this, for the same resistance in kind, though not in degree, is met by white men who rise from lowly conditions. The successful and opulent esteem them as upstarts. A lady, elegant and opulent, as Mrs. Potter Palmer, had to hear herself talked about as 'shoddy,' 'an upstart,' the wife of a 'tavern keeper,' and the like, during the Columbian Exposition. But the upstart of to-day is the elite of to-morrow."
William Douglass was born in Baltimore September 6, 1805, on Montgomery street near Leadenhall street. In the olden days, the father of Mr. Douglass was a well-known blacksmith who conducted business on Light street. Of the very early life of the Rev. Mr. Douglass we know little. However, he attended "Daniel Coker's School," and was one of the boys who achieved marked distinction. Mr. Douglass was well instructed in the higher branches, and the languages, by Daniel Coker. Mr. Dougless married a Miss Elizabeth Grice, daughter of the celebrated colored abolitionist Hezekiah Grice. It was while as an itinerant minister among the Methodists, in Cecil county, that he found his way into the Protestant Episcopal Church, and was the first colored man ever ordained to the ministry of the Episcopal Church, not only in the State of Maryland, but in the entire South. This ordination took place on the Eastern Shore, in the State of Maryland. It occurred on Sunday, June 22nd, 1834. The entry, with respect to the ordination, in Bishop Stone's journal, reads as follows:
"On Sunday 22, I preached in St. Stephen's parish, Cecil County (Sassafras Neck), and admitted to the order of Deacons William Douglass (a colored man), and in the afternoon of the same day I confirmed three persons. Many persons who were present never before witnessed an ordination, and I am sure that the impression made upon their minds was favorable to the Church and her institutions.
In the afternoon, by previous arrangement, the Church was given up to the Colored People, and the Rev. Mr. Douglass preached to them an interesting sermon."
It appears that the year before, 1833, Mr. Douglass visited Philadelphia, attending the Anti-Slavery Convention, and possibly the occasion of this visit is responsible for his introduction to the people of St. Thomas Church.
Very soon after Mr. Douglass' ordination, he accepted a call to St. Thomas African Church, Philadelphia, which was established in 1793, and which is said to be the oldest regularly incorporated colored congregation of any denomination in the United States. This parish, St. Thomas, eventuated from the old "Free African Society" established in 1787. The occasion of the formation of the "Free African Society," was the ejectment of the band of colored Methodists from St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, where they were wont to worship. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones were the two leaders in this Society. First, the society determined to build an "African Church." Later, they held a meeting to determine with which of the white religious bodies their church should be connected. Although most of the members, up to this time, were Methodists, they decided, almost unanimously, that the church and congregation should be connected with the Protestant Episcopal Church, of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Only two members seemed to have voted against this proposal--and they the two leaders--Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. Notwithstanding, the society requested Richard Allen that he would be their "minister," to be recommended to Bishop White, of the Episcopal Church, for a regular license. Allen maintained that he was a Methodist and could not be anything else save a Methodist; he, therefore, declined. Absalom Jones was then asked to
accept the same position, and, after due deliberation, he accepted. He was licensed as a Lay Reader by Bishop White, and, in 1795, he was ordained a deacon. Later, he was advanced to the Priesthood. Jones departed this life in 1818. From that time to the coming of the Rev. Mr. Douglass, in 1834, the church had a supply of various white ministers; but Mr. Douglass was the immediate successor of Absalom Jones as rector of the Church.
The 14th day of February, 1836, was a great day for the Rev. Mr. Douglass; for on that particular day, in St. Thomas Church, he was raised to the holy order of Priesthood, in the Church of God. Bishop H. U. Onderdonk, who was assistant to Bishop White, officiated upon that occasion, and the following entry from his journal will show his impression of this black man, and his fitness for such an exalted position. Bishop Onderdonk says:
"On Sunday, February 14th, in St. Thomas (African) Church, Philadelphia, I admitted the Rev. William Douglass, deacon, to the holy order of Priests. Mr. Douglass is a man of Colour; and I take the opportunity of recording my very favorable estimate of his highly respectable intellect, and most aimable qualities, which entirely relieved my mind, in his case, from the anxieties I had long felt in reference to this department of Episcopal duty. He ministers to a congregation at unity in itself, much attached to him, and improving, under his pastoral care, in the principles and duties of our common Christianity."
Mr. Douglass was a power in Philadelphia among the race in his day. In addition to his parochial, and other duties, he became an author, even in that early day. In 1853, he issued a volume of sermons, a book of about 250 pages, containing twelve sermons. Later, he published a second volume, being the "Annals of St. Thomas Church,"
of which he was rector. A copy of both volumes the present author possesses. In 1862, at the Diocesan Convention, Bishop Alonzo Potter, in reporting the death of Mr. Douglass, said:
"It hath pleased the Lord to call away from the Church Militant the Rev. William Douglass, rector of St. Thomas African Church, in this city, where he has ministered for the last twenty-seven years--a man of great modesty, of ripe scholarship, and of much more than ordinary talents and prudence. He is as far as I am informed, the only clergyman of unmixed African descent, who, in this country, has published works of considerable magnitude. In two volumes, one of sermons, and one a history of St. Thomas' Church, has vindicated his right to appear among our respected divines. As a reader of the Liturgy he was unsurpassed." His death occurred in Philadelphia on May 22, 1862.
(The extract here given, is from a sermon of the Rev. William Douglass, preached in St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, November 15, 1840, in memory of the Rev. Peter Williams, late founder and rector of St. Philip's Church, New York. His text was: "For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep"--Acts xiii.--36.)
"Such was the character and end of our late friend and brother, the Rev. Peter Williams; called away suddenly to us, but not to him, from the field of toil and labor, to rest in Abraham's bosom. Our departed friend was brought under the influence of saving grace in the most favorable season of life. He gave heed to the admonition: 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil
days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.' Blessed as he had been with the advantage of pious parents, he very probably traced his early religious impressions to their Godly admonitions and counsels. The time however came that must come to all, when the sacred tie that bound the hearts of parents and child together, had to be severed by death. He was left behind to mourn the loss of them for awhile; but with what raptures must they have hailed each other as they met again on the borders of the heavenly world, to part no more forever.
"At the age of seventeen or eighteen years, he became a communicant member of the Episcopal Church, of which Dr. Lisle was pastor. Soon after, he assisted an aged gentleman, whose name was Thomas McKoon, in giving catechetical instruction to the children assembled in a private room rented for that purpose. In the same place a number of adults regularly met on Sunday evenings for religious purposes. The exercises were generally conducted by Mr. McKoon. After the death of this gentleman, Mr. Williams was regularly appointed lay-reader. He acted in that capacity until the year 1820, at which time he was ordained deacon by Bishop Hobart, in the church in which he dispensed the word of life to the close of his earthly pilgrimage. He was ordained priest by the same Bishop in the year 1826. He manifested a deep concern for the improvement not only of the people of his charge, but for his brethren generally. Hence, he was found contributing his influence and pecuniary means towards supporting the various organized instrumentalities that had a tendency to elevate and improve the condition and character of his oppressed people. I doubt very much whether there exists in the city of New York one single society having an immediate
bearing on the general interests of our people, but what met with his countenance and support. He was not conspicuous in these matters. For no man, perhaps, was less given to display or aimed less at popular applause than he. If he could hide himself from personal gaze, he seemed to be best pleased. His whole deportment seemed to say:
'Let me be little and unknown,
Lov'd and priz'd by God alone.'
"A retiring modesty and unaffected diffidence formed a very prominent feature in his character. His hopes for an improvement in the character of our people were in the young and rising generation, in whom he manifested a lively interest. Did he see a promising youth, who lacked nothing but the necessary advantages to enable him to reflect credit on himself and people, in a moral and intellectual point of view; he was the man who would spare no pains to get such a one in a situation favorable to the development of his powers. He took delight in seeking out such cases. There is now a high school in the city of New York that owes its establishment chiefly to his untiring efforts.
"He was a universal friend. His countenance, which was expressive of kind and benevolent feelings, added to that ease and gentleness which were ever seen in his manners, told every one that approached him, that he was in the presence of a friend. He loved every one, hence he was universally beloved in return. To use the language of one with whom he had long been most intimate: "He was a friend to everybody--he was always in trouble about other people's troubles. He was a kind of depository for every one to lodge his cares and anxieties. People of different denominations, whenever they got into difficulty, would invariably go to him; and he, in the kindness of his heart,
would as often use his endeavors to have their affairs satisfactorily settled.
"As regards his fidelity and zeal in the discharge of his ministerial duties, I need only quote the words of his Diocesan, delivered on the day of his interment:
"'It was my privilege,' says the venerable Prelate, 'to be often the depository of the cares and anxieties, the longing desires and earnest endeavors, the watchful solicitudes, the cheering hopes, the affectionate fears, and practical dependence upon God's grace, with which he gave himself, instant in season and out of season to his pastoral charge. I have often said, and would now say, in conscious sincerity and integrity of heart, that in all the wide range of my observation, I never knew a pastor whose whole soul seemed more engaged in the great work to which he had been set apart. I have seen this in the happy results of his ministry, and felt it in the many occasions on which he has taken counsel with me in matters pertaining to his high and holy trust.'
"During the last two or three years of our departed friend's life, it was evident to his friends that his health was declining. I have been informed that a little while previous to his death, he had one or two attacks of apoplexy; and that he was impressed with the idea that he would be called away in one of these attacks. The solemn messenger it is true, did not come in this form, but his purpose was executed with less despatch. He was aroused from his bed at the hour of 11 o'clock Saturday night, 17th ult., by an alarm of fire. He looked out at his window, and immediately complained of a difficulty in breathing; and at 3 o'clock Sunday morning, he leaned his head on his Savior's bosom, and breathed his life out sweetly there. Peace to his mortal remains, until reanimated by the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God."
On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, in the County of Kent, on December 23, 1815, Henry Highland Garnet was born. He was born in slavery, as was his father before him. His father was a slave on the plantation belonging to Colonel William Spencer. But, the father of George Garnet, grandfather of Henry, was a native African, Mandingo chieftain, who also was one of the victims of the African Slave trade. He was brought to America and sold into slavery.
When Henry Garnet was about nine years of age, his father, with his mother, made their escape from slavery. George Garnet got permission of his master to attend the funeral of a friend, a slave, who had died; but, instead of attending the funeral he procured a covered wagon, and in it placed young Garnet, his sister and their mother, and, under cover of night, drove to Wilmington, Delaware. There the family was taken in charge by Thomas Garret, the veteran abolitionist. From there they were sent on to New York. In New York apartments were secured on Leonard street, next door to Boston Crummell, father of the late Rev. Dr. Crummell. Henry Garnet and Alexander Crummell grew up together as boys, were schoolmates and fast friends through life until separated by death. They attended together the old African Free School in Mulberry street. A number of the colored boys attending this school in after life became celebrated characters. Among the
number were: Patrick and Charles L. Reason, Ira Aldridge, George T. Downing, Isaiah G. Degrasse, Dr. McCune Smith and Samuel Ringgold Ward. Later, about 1831, through the efforts of the late Rev. Peter Williams, Boston Crummell, and others, a colored high school was inaugurated; and these boys also attended this institution. When about 15 years of age, Henry Garnet, through an accident, contracted a white swelling, which rendered him a cripple for life. In view of this calamity, the future scholarship which he achieved, and the marked distinction which he won, are perfectly marvelous. Very early in life he became a pupil of the Sunday School of the First Presbyterian Church, under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Theodore S. Wright. In 1835, Garnet, with Crummell and other boys, attended a boarding school in Canaan, New Hampshire. There they remained for awhile until finally "race prejudice" broke up the school. Yet, a cripple, weak, sickly and feeble, undaunted, Garnet persevered in obtaining his education. From here he went to the Oneida Institute, Whitesboro, N. Y. He graduated from this institution in 1839. He then settled at Troy, N. Y., and taught the colored school there; at the same time he studied theology under Rev. Dr. Beman, and acted as secretary of the Colored Presbyterian Church. In 1842 he was licensed and ordained to the Presbyterian ministry. He remained there for a period of ten years. During this time he published a newspaper called the "Clarion." Very soon, he had enlisted in the great abolition movement, and, in which cause he became one of its most celebrated speakers. The late Rev. Dr. Crummell, in his eulogium of Dr. Garnet, relates an incident which will give some idea of the "maiden speech" of Dr. Garnet, in connection with the Anti-Slavery campaign.
Says Dr. Crummell: "I was the guest last November of a distinguished and learned clergyman of my own church in New Jersey." He told me the following facts: "I was born," he said, "in the South, the son of a slave-owner. Passing through New York, in May 1841, I read a notice that a black man would speak at the anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The idea of a Negro making a speech was the most ludicrous thing imaginable, but for the sport of the thing, I said, I will go and hear this fellow. I had never seen a Negro who could read. I had not the most distant idea that a black man could be taught to think, to be intelligent, to be cultivated. I thought I should have fine fun in hearing something burlesque and clownish." "I went," he said, "to the Broadway Tabernacle, took my seat and waited for the speaker. Two or three white men spoke, and then the chairman introduced a tall, slender, black young man, leaning on a crutch whom he announced by the name of Garnet. Dr. Crummell, as soon as he opened his mouth and began his speech I was filled with amazement. Never in my life, before or since, have I heard such pure and beautiful English, such finely turned sentences, such clear and polished rhetoric, such lucid, crystal thought. His gesticulation, too, was as refined and elegant as his speech was chaste and manly." "Never from that day," he said, "have I ever had any doubts of the full capacity of the Negro."
After the close of the Civil War, Dr. Garnet settled down to the pastorate. He was, for awhile, in Washington, also pastor of Shiloh Presbyterian Church, New York. He was appointed United States Minister to Liberia, West Africa, and died in that country shortly after his arrival there. Following his death, the following minute was adopted by the Presbytery of New York, of which he was an honored and distinguished member:
"At the stated meeting of the Presbytery of New York, April 10, 1882, the following resolution was adopted: 'That the Presbytery has heard with profound regret of the death of the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, D. D., a member of this body, the late pastor of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church of this city and Minister of the United States to the Republic of Liberia. His long service in the church, his ability and fidelity as a preacher and pastor, the dignity, purity, and usefulness of his life, and the courage with which he maintained the honor of his high calling in the church and the community, commanded our esteem and respect, and render his departure a real loss to this Presbytery. That his death as he was just entering upon his duties as Minister of Liberia, where he had a wide field for the exercise of his talents, and where he promised to be greatly useful, is to be deplored as a calamity to that republic and to the colored race.' "
That a copy of this minute be sent to the family of Dr. Garnet and be published."
There is hardly anything more beautiful, and really touching, than the mangnificent eulogium of Dr. Garnet, by the late Rev. Dr. Crummell, before the Bethel Literary, of Washington, D. C., on the 4th day of May, 1882, and from which we have already quoted. In closing this sketch, we shall again borrow the words of his life-long friend. Says Dr. Crummell:
"I have spoken of the genius, the eloquence, and the labors of Henry Highland Garnet. Spare me a few moments longer, for a few words concerning the man himself, for a man, i. e., the personal quality of any human being, is always of more value than any of his parts.
"There are two words, which I think more than any other, will serve to delineate his character--LARGENESS and
SWEETNESS. I can well believe the tradition in his family that his ancestors were kings in Africa. Things, ideas of magnitude, grand prospects, seemed ever, even in boyhood to occupy his mind. There was nothing of stint or contractedness about him. He was generous, beneficent, unselfish, hospitable.
" 'Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere.'
"Every stranger, minister, foreigner, fugitive, refugee, was welcome to his board, and could command his purse. The great fault of his character was in this direction. Not merely unselfish, he lacked somewhat in the quality of self-love. There was a princeliness in his largeness which not seldom landed him into poverty. For, like Daniel Webster, and I am speaking of no faultless man, he never seemed to think there were limitations to the boundliness of his beneficence and the capacity of his pocket. If in the future as in the past, men continue to prize noble gifts used for the highest purposes; to honor our devoted service freely given for the maintenance of truth and justice; to applaud lofty speech used for the upbuilding of humanity and the advancement of the race; to revere pure and lofty character, a life-time illustration of the finest qualities of our kind,
" 'Then o'er his mound a sanctity shall brood,
Till the stars sicken at the day of doom.' "
At present, National race conventions, of various kinds, are quite familiar to all. The "Convention Movement" has reference to the very beginning of such assemblies in this country among our people. Of course, before the Civil War such were necessarily confined to "free persons of color." In the years following the War of 1814, the troubles, disadvantages, and oppression of "free colored persons" in the so-called free states multiplied and increased. The air was filled with colonization schemes, and the various uprisings among the blacks, in other sections of the country, contributed towards rendering the lot of the free colored person far from being a happy one. The idea of holding a convention of free colored persons, somewhere in the free states, was born in the mind of Hezekiah Grice, a free person of color of the city of Baltimore. Early in the spring of 1830 he sent out a number of circulars to free colored men in the various free states to elicit their views. A primary meeting was held, shortly, in the city of Philadelphia, and the call for the convention was formally sent out, which convened in that same city of Philadelphia on the 15th of September, 1830. The convention was held in Bethel Church, and Bishop Allen was its president. The delegates attending from the city of Baltimore were: Hezekiah Grice, James Deaver, Aaron Wilson and Robert Cowly There were forty delegates present, representing seven
states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The convention registered its protest against the colonization scheme and appointed committees to make investigation with respect to settlements in some part of Canada. These conventions became a fixed annual institution, and were regularly held until the Civil War. The convention of 1831 is memorable from the fact that the "free colored persons" of that day seemed to have anticipated both Hampton and Booker T. Washington. In the former convention something was said of the need of a "Manual Training School," and adequate land had been tendered for the purpose, near New Haven, Conn. But the white people of that vicinity vigorously "protested" against the establishment there of such an institution for colored people.
But, of Hezekiah Grice we know but little. He was a man of considerable ability, an ardent race lover, and an aggressive anti-slavery man. He was associated with Benjamin Lundy and William Lloyd Garrison in the publication in Baltimore of "The Genius of Universal Emancipation." When the publishers of that paper were mobbed and their plant destroyed, he fled with them, but subsequently he returned. He organized in Baltimore, in that early day, among the free colored people, a "Legal Rights Association." A few years after, he emigrated to Haiti, where he became a large contractor. A daughter of Hezekiah Grice, Miss Elizabeth, became the wife of the Rev. William Douglass, rector of St. Thomas' Church, Philadelphia. Mr. Douglass, himself, was ordained to the Episcopal ministry by Bishop Stone, an Eastern Shore man, and a lineal descendant of Governor Stone, of Colonial days in Maryland.
There are quite a number of names of distinguished colored men, of the past, concerning whom it is difficult to ascertain definite and reliable data. Jacob C. Greenough, grandfather of Prof. Richard T. Greener (the first colored person to graduate from Harvard University), was quite active in Maryland affairs as early as the year 1815, at which time, being a communicant of St. Paul's Parish, Baltimore, and also a licensed lay-reader, he made the first attempt to raise a Colored Episcopal Church in Baltimore, by holding services in his own house. He was one of, it not the leader, in antagonizing the Colonization Movement. The Rev. William Watkins not only conducted a day school, but also associated with Frederick Douglass in his journalistic and anti-slavery work. Isaiah C. Wears, the celebrated orator and debater, of Philadelphia, was also a Marylander by birth. Samuel W. Chase and George Hackett were giant leaders of the race in their day. Chase was known far and near for his moving and captivating eloquence. During the period immediately following the Civil War, Isaac and George Myers were the distinguished and effective leaders of racial interests. Isaac Myers was also most active in Bethel Sunday School and Church.
About this same time, there arose to prominence and leadership, a man, although not a native, whose good work earned for him a worthy place among the "Men of Maryland." From the humble occupation of a "teamster" he gradually arose to real, potential, and effective leadership of his race. For a number of years he was a United States Inspector of Customs. Many years later, he was elected a member of the Baltimore City Council. He exercised a wonderful influence over the leaders of both political parties. Few men enjoyed such extensive personal acquaintance
with the big men of the country, both white and colored. He adapted himself to conditions such as they were. He could play "ring" politics, or otherwise. Our present prosperity in schools and many other civic affairs, are due, in a large measure, to his efficient leadership. Naturally, he had political enemies. Some very good people characterized him as a "corrupt boss." But, the author of this volume knew him quite well for well-nigh twenty years, during which time we never discerned in him other than a straightforward, courteous, and honest man. Our estimate of Hiram Watty, for we refer to him, is that of one of the most genuinely useful and serviceable men of the race, in his day and generation.
James Anderson Handy, D. D., Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Baltimore, Md., on the 22nd day of December, 1826. His mother died when he was about six years of age, leaving five children. He was placed in the care of his uncle who reared him. When a boy, about seven years of age, he was baptized by the Rev. Peter Schureman. About the same time, he became a member of Bethel Sunday School, and always thereafter considered himself a member of the School unto the day of his death. He occupied every position in the Sunday School, from scholar to superintendent. In 1852 he became a full member of the congregation, and filled every office therein, save being a licensed exhorter. Bishop Handy was true and faithful in every position from sexton to Bishop. In due season, he became an elder in the Church, and at the close of the Civil War, was one of the few picked men chosen by Bishop Payne to accompany him in the far South, to open up the work of that Church.
In 1888, he was elected financial secretary of the connection, and purchased and established the present headquarters in the city of Washington. In 1892 he was elected a Bishop of his Church. We was also the author of "Scraps" of Methodist history." He was a strong character, and universally beloved, but nowhere more than in Baltimore, his own native city, where, full of years and full of honors, he breathed his last, October 3, 1911. He was buried from Bethel Church.
Frances Ellen Watkins was born in the city of Baltimore in the year 1825. Although of "free" parentage, she was subjected to many of the disadvantages and oppressive influences which bond and free alike experienced under slave laws. Mrs. Harper, after she had grown up, expressed very pathetically, but clearly, the loneliness of her childhood days, in the following extract from her writings:
"Have I yearned for a mother's love? The grave was my robber. Before three years had scattered their blight around my path, death had won my mother from me. Would the strong arm of a brother have been welcome? I was my mother's only child."
The earliest portion of her life was spent in the care of her aunt, while she enjoyed the privilege of attending the day school taught by her uncle, Rev. William Watkins, for the benefit of "free" colored children. But, when she was about thirteen years of age, she was taken from school and put to work to earn her own living. She had, of course, many trials and temptations; but, at the same time, she greatly profited by her environment, in the white family where she was employed. Very early, in her teens, she gave unmistakable evidence of poetic and literary ability. She was taught sewing, while she cared for the children of the household, and, at the same time she satisfied her
ever-growing fondness for books and good literature. She had scarcely reached her majority 'ere she had written a number of prose and poetic pieces which were deemed of sufficient merit to be published in a small volume under the title of "Forest Leaves." Some of her efforts found their way into the newspapers. Her mind was of a strictly religious caste, and all the effusions of her pen bear a highly moral and elevating tone. About the year 1851, she left Baltimore to seek a home in a free State; and, for a short while, took up her abode in the State of Ohio, where she engaged in teaching. Her residence in Ohio was but for a short time. She removed to Little York, Pennsylvania, where she continued the work of teaching. It was while teaching in York that she became thoroughly drawn to the work of the Anti-Slavery cause, and, eventually, became one of its leading public lecturers, and with devotion and energy, gave herself, wholly to the cause.
What may be termed her "maiden speech" was delivered in August, 1854, and the following extract of that date is interesting:
"Well, I am out lecturing. I have lectured every night this week; besides, addressed a Sunday School, and I shall speak, if nothing prevents, to-night. My lectures have met with success. Last night I lectured in a white church in Providence. Mr. Gardener was present, and made the estimate of about six hundred persons. Never, perhaps, was a speaker, old or young, favored with a more attentive audience. . . . My voice is not wanting in strength, as I am aware of, to reach pretty well over the house. The Church was the Roger Williams; the pastor, a Mr. Furnell, who appeared to be a kind and Christian man. . . . My maiden lecture was Monday night in New Bedford, on the 'Elevation and Education of Our People.' "
In 1856, Mrs. Harper, desiring to see the fugitives in Canada, visited the Upper Province, and, in a letter dated at Niagara Falls, September 12 she gives the impression of that visit upon her heart and mind in the following language:
"Well I have gazed for the first time upon Free Land, and, would you believe it, tears sprang to my eyes, and I wept. Oh, it was a glorious sight to gaze for the first time on a land where a poor slave flying from our glorious land of liberty would in a moment find his fetters broken, his shackles loosed, and whatever he was in the land of Washington, beneath the shadow of Bunker Hill Monument or even Plymouth Rock, here he becomes a man and a brother. I have gazed on Harper's Ferry, or rather the Rock at the Ferry; I have seen it towering up in simple grandeur, with the gentle Potomac gliding peacefully at its feet, and felt that that was God's masonry, and my soul has expanded in gazing on its sublimity. I have seen the ocean singing its wild chorus of sounding waves, and ecstacy has thrilled upon the living chords of my heart. I have since then seen the rainbow-crowned Niagara chanting the choral hymn of Omnipotence, girdled with grandeur, and robed with glory; but none of these things have melted me as the first sight of Free Land. Towering mountains lifting their hoary summits to catch the first faint flush of day when the sunbeams kiss the shadows from morning's drowsy face may expand and exalt your soul. The first view of the ocean may fill you with strange delight. Niagara--the great, the glorious Niagara--may hush your spirit with its ceaseless thunder; it may charm you with its robe of crested spray and rainbow crown; but the land of Freedom was a lesson of deeper significance than foaming waves or towering mounts."
When we recall the scenes of those awful days of sorrow, anxieties, and genuine affliction, centering around the tragic outcome of the "John Brown's raid," at Harper's Ferry, we can get some idea of the deep sensations which energized the heart of the subject of this sketch, from the note addressed by her, from her home in Ohio, to John Brown's wife. On that memorable occasion, she wrote thus:
"My Dear Madam:--In an hour like this the common words of sympathy may seem like idle words, and yet, I want to say something to you, the noble wife of the hero of the Nineteenth Century. Belonging to the race your dear husband reached forth his hand to assist, I need not tell you that my sympathies are with you. I thank you for the brave words you have spoken. A republic that produces such a wife and mother may hope for better days. Our heart may grow more hopeful for humanity when it sees the sublime sacrifice it is about to receive from his hands. Not in vain has your dear husband perilled all, if the martydom of one hero is worth more than the life of a million cowards. From the prison comes forth a shout of triumph over that power whose ethics are robbery of the feeble and oppression of the weak, the trophies of whose chivalry are a plundered cradle and a scourged and bleeding woman. Dear sister, I thank you for the brave and noble words you have spoken. Enclosed I send you a few dollars as a token of my gratitude, reverence and love.
"FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS."P. S.--May God, our own God, sustain you in the hour of trial. If there is one thing on earth I can do for you or yours, let me be apprised. I am at your service."
It was in the fall of 1860 that Miss Watkins was married
to a Mr. Harper, of Ohio. Mr. Harper died in May, 1864.
This brave woman who had traveled throughout the North in the interest of the Anti-Slavery cause, immediately after the close of the Civil War, was among the very first to go South, and labor on behalf of her emancipated brethren. She traveled, and labored in nearly every one of the Southern States. She went on the plantations, and amongst the lowly, as well as to the cities and towns, addressing schools, churches, meetings in Court Houses, Legislative Halls, and sometimes under the most trying and hazardous circumstances; influenced in her labor of love, wholly by the noble impulses of her own heart, working her way along unsustained by any society. She came into contact with all classes, the original slave holders, and the Freedmen. In no instance did she permit herself, through fear, to disappoint an audience when engagements had been made for her to speak, although frequently admonished that it would be dangerous to venture in so doing.
In a letter from Darlington, S. C., to the late Mr. William Still, of Philadelphia, under date of May 13, 1867, she writes:
"You will see by this that I am in the sunny South. I here read and see human nature under new lights and phases. I meet with a people eager to hear, ready to listen, as if they felt that the slumber of the ages had been broken, and that they were to sleep no more. . . . I am glad that the colored man gets freedom and suffrage together; that he is not forced to go through the same condition of things here, that has inclined him so much to apathy, isolation, and indifference, in the North. You, perhaps, wonder why I have been so slow in writing to
you, but if you knew how busy I am, just working up to or past the limit of my strength. Traveling, conversing, addressing day and Sunday Schools (picking up scraps of information, takes a large portion of my time) besides what I give to reading. For my audiences I have both white and colored. On the cars, some find out that I am a lecturer, and then, again, I am drawn into conversation. 'What are you lecturing about?' the question comes up, and if I say, among other topics, politics, then I may look for an onset. There is a sensitiveness on this subject, a dread it may be that some one will 'put the devil in the nigger's head,' or exert some influence inimical to them; still, I get along somewhat pleasantly.
"Last week I had a small congregation of listeners in the cars, where I sat. I got in conversation with a former slave-dealer, and we had rather an exciting time. I was traveling alone, but it is not worth while to show any signs of fear. . . . Last Saturday I spoke in Sumter; a number of white persons were present, and I had been invited to speak there by the Mayor and editor of the paper. There had been some violence in the district, and some of my friends did not wish me to go, but I had promised, and, of course, I went. . . . I am in Darlington, and spoke yesterday, but my congregation was so large, that I stood near the door of the church, so that I might be heard both inside and out for a large portion, perhaps, nearly half of my congregation were on the outside; and this is Darlington where, about two years ago, a girl was hung for making a childish and indescreet speech. Victory was perched on our banners. Our army had been through, and this poor, ill-fated girl, almost a child in years, about seventeen years of age, rejoiced over the event, and said that she was going to marry a Yankee and set up housekeeping. She was
reported as having made an incendiary speech and arrested, cruelly scouraged, and then brutally hung. Poor child, she had been a faithful servant--her master tried to save her, but the tide of fury swept away his efforts. . . . Oh, friends, perhaps, sometimes your heart would ache, if you were only here and heard of the wrongs and abuses to which these people have been subjected. . . . Things, I believe, are a little more hopeful, at least, I believe, some of the colored people are getting better contracts, and, I understand that there is less murdering. While I am writing a colored man stands here, with a tale of wrong--he has worked a whole year, year before last, and now he has been put off with fifteen bushels of corn and his food; yesterday he went to see about getting his money, and the person to whom he went, threatened to kick him off, and accused him of stealing. I don't know how the colored man will vote, but, perhaps many of them will be intimidated at the polls."
In June of the same year, Mrs. Harper writes the following from Cheraw, South Carolina:
"Well, Carolina is an interesting place. There is not a State in the Union I prefer to Carolina. Kinder, more hospitable, warmer-hearted people, perhaps, you will not find anywhere. I have been to Georgia; but Carolina is my preference. . . . The South is to be a great theatre for the colored man's development and progress. There is brain power here. If any doubt it, let him come into our schools, or even converse with some of our Freedmen, either in their homes or by the way-side."
Mrs. Harper's Philadelphia correspondent had jestingly, suggested to her in one of his letters, that she should be careful not to allow herself to be "bought by the rebels." Her reply to this jesting remark is specially interesting,
revealing as it does, her wonderful grasp of the grave and intricate situation. She said:
"Now, in reference to being bought by rebels and becoming a Johnsonite, I hold that between the white people and the colored people there is a community of interests, and the sooner they find it out, the better it will be for both parties; but that community of interest does not consist in increasing the privileges of one class, and a curtailing of the rights of the other, but in getting every citizen interested in the welfare, progress and durability of the State. I do not, in lecturing, confine myself to the political side of the question. While I am in favor of Universal Suffrage, yet I know that the colored man needs something more than a vote in his hands; he needs to know the value of a home life; to rightly appreciate and value the marriage relation; to know how to be incited to leave behind him the old shards and shells of slavery and to rise in the scale of character, wealth, and influence. Like the Nautalus outgrowing his home to build for himself more 'stately temples' of social condition. A man landless, ignorant and poor may use the vote against his interests; but with intelligence and land he holds in his hand the basis of power and elements of strength."
Writing from Greenville, Ga., Mrs. Harper says:
"I am now going to have a private meeting with the women of this place, if they will come out. I am going to talk with them about their daughters, and about things connected with the welfare of the race. Now is the time for our women to begin to try to lift up their heads and plant the roots of progress under the hearthstone. Last night I spoke in a school house, where there was not, to my knowledge, a single window glass; to-day I write to you in a lowly cabin where the windows in the room are formed
by two apertures in the wall. There is a widespread and almost universal appearance of poverty in this State where I have been, but, thus far, I have seen no, or scarcely any, pauperism. I am not sure that I have seen any. The climate is so fine, so little cold that people can live off less than they can in the North. Last night my table was adorned with roses although I did not get one cent for my lecture. . . .
"The political heavens are getting somewhat overcast. Some of this old rebel element, I think, are in favor of taking away the colored man's vote, and if he loses it now it may be generations before he gets it again. Well, after all, perhaps, the colored man, generally, is not really developed enough to value his vote and equality with other races so he gets enough to eat and drink, and be comfortable, perhaps the loss of his vote would not be a serious grievance to many; but his children differently educated and trained by circumstances might feel political inferiority rather a bitter cup. After all, whether they encourage me or discourage me, I belong to this race, and when it is down I belong to a down race; when it is up I belong to a risen race."
Mrs. Harper was not only an educated and queenly woman, but she possessed wonderful self-control, coupled with a remarkable tactfulness. These rare gifts were greatly in evidence in her extensive Southern campaign, after the close of the Civil War. For, the woman who had been so bold and energetic in the Anti-Slavery cause, without delay, took up her work in the South among her recently enfranchised brethren, going in among the most ultra of Southern white people, and compelling their admiration by her wise, gracious, and discriminating good
sense. An extended account of her Mobile address is given, for it presents a true grasp of the most intricate situation, and her clever handling of the same.
It was in the month of July, 1871, in the city of Mobile, Ala. The extract here presented is by Mr. John Forsyth, editor of the Mobile, Alabama, Register, and it was published in his paper, at the time, indicating the impression made upon this prominent Southerner, who had attended the "lecture" more out of curiosity than for any other reason.
"We received a polite invitation from the trustees of the State St. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church to attend a lecture in that edifice on Thursday evening. Being told that the discourse would be delivered by a female colored lecturer from Maryland, curiosity, as well as interest to see how the colored citizens were managing their own institutions, led us at once to accept the invitation. We found a very spacious church gas light, and the balustrades of the galleries copiously hung with wreaths and festoons of flowers, and a large audience of both sexes, which, both in appearance and behavior, was respectable and decorously observant of the proprieties of the place. The services were opened, as usual, with prayer and a hymn, the latter inspired by powerful lungs, and in which the musical ear at once caught the Negro talent for melody. The lecturer was then introduced as Mrs. F. E. W. Harper, from Maryland. Without a moment's hesitation she started off in the flow of her discourse, which rolled smoothly and uninterruptedly on for nearly two hours. It was very apparent that it was not a cut and dried
speech, for she was as fluent and as felicitous in her allusions to circumstances immediately around her as she was when she arose to a more exalted pitch of laudation of the 'Union,' or of execration of the old slave system. Her voice was remarkable--as sweet as any woman's voice we ever heard, and so clear and distinct as to pass every syllable to the most distant ear in the house. Without any effort at attentive listening we followed the speaker to the end, not discerning a single grammatical inaccuracy of speech, or the slightest violation of good taste in manner or matter. At times, the current of thoughts flowed in eloquent and poetic expression, and often her quaint humor would expose the ivory in a half a thousand mouths. We confess that we began to wonder, and we asked a fine looking man before us, 'What is her color?' 'Is she dark or light?' He answered: 'She is mulatto; what they call a red mulatto.' The 'red' was new to us. Our neighbor asked, 'How do you like her?' We replied: 'She is giving your people the best kind and the very wisest of advice.' He rejoined, 'I wish I had her education.' To which we added, 'that's just what she tells you is your great duty, and your need and if you are too old to get it yourself, you must give it to your children."
The speaker left the impression on our mind that she was not only intelligent and educated, but--the great end of education--she was enlightened. She comprehends perfectly the situation of her people, to whose interests she seems ardently devoted. The main theme of her discourse, the one string to the harmony of which all the others were attuned, was the grand opportunity that emancipation had afforded to the black race to lift itself to the level of the duties and responsibilities enjoined by it. "You have muscle power and brain power," she said; "you must
utilize them, or be content to remain forever the inferior race. Get land, every one that can, and as fast as you can. A landless people must be dependent upon the landed people. A few acres to till for food and a roof, however humble, over your head, are the castle of your independence, and when you have it you are fortified to act and vote independently whenever your interests are at stake."
That part of her lecture (and there was much of it) that dwelt on the moral duties and domestic relations of the colored people was pitched on the highest key of sound morality. She urged the cultivation of the "home life," the sanctity of the marriage state (a happy contrast to her strong-minded, free love, white sisters of the North), and the duties of mothers to their daughters, "Why," said she in a voice of much surprise. "I have actually heard since I have been South that sometimes colored husbands positively beat their wives. I do not mean to insinuate for a moment that such things can possibly happen in Mobile. The very appearance of this congregation forbids it; but I did hear of one terrible husband defending himself for the unmanly practice with, 'Well, I have got to whip her or leave her.'"
There were parts of the lecturer's discourse that grated a little on a white Southern ear, but it was lost and forgiven in the genuine earnestness and profound good sense with which the woman spoke to her kind in words of sound advice.
"On the whole, we are very glad that we accepted the Zion's invitation. It gave us much food for new thought. It reminded us, perhaps, of neglected duties to these colored people, and it impressed strongly on our minds that these people are getting along, getting onward, and progress
was a star becoming familiar to their gaze and their desires. Whatever the Negroes have done in the path of advancement, they have done largely without white aid. But politics and white pride have kept the white people aloof from offering that earnest and moral assistance which would be so useful to a people just starting from infancy into a life of self-dependence."
Mrs. Harper, the same year, writing from the same State, says:
"While in Taladega I was entertained, and well entertained, at the house of one of our new citizens. He is living in the house of his former master. He is a brick-maker by trade, and I rather think, mason also. He was worth to his owner, it was reckoned, fifteen hundred, or about that, a year. He worked with him seven years; and in that seven years he remembers receiving from him--fifty cents. Now mark the contrast. That man is now free, owns the home of his former master, has I think, more than sixty acres of land, and his master is in the poor-house. I heard of another such case not long since. A woman was cruelly treated once, or more than once. She escaped and ran naked into town. The villain in whose clutch she found herself was trying to draw her downward to his own low level of impurity, and at last she fell. She was poorly fed, so that she was tempted to sell her person. Even scraps thrown to the dogs she was hunger-bitten enough to aim for. Poor thing, was there anything in the future for her? Had not hunger, and cruelty, and prostitution, done their work, and left her an entire wreck for life? It seems not. Freedom came and with it dawned a new era upon that poor, over-shadowed, and sin-darkened life. Freedom brought opportunity for work and wages combined. She went to work, and got ten dollars a month.
She has contrived to get some education, and has since been teaching school. While her former mistress has been to her for help.
"'Do not the mills of the gods grind exceedingly fine?' And she has helped that mistress, and so has the colored man given money, from what I heard, to his former master. After all, friends, do we not belong to one of the best branches of the human race? And yet, how have our people been murdered in the South, and their bones scattered at the grave's mouth. Oh, when will we have a government strong enough to make human life safe?"
Fifty thousand copies, or more, of the four volumes by Mrs. Harper have been sold. During her latter years she published her greatest work, "Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted." Before the Civil War she was in the service of the Anti-Slavery Society; since, then, by appointment of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she held the office of "Superintendent of Colored Work" for years. She also held the office of one of the Directors of the Women's Congress of the United States. Under the auspices of these influential associations, she has often been seen on their platforms with the leading women orators of the nation.
Grace Greenwood, in the Independent, in noticing a course of Lectures in which Mrs. Harper participated (in Philadelphia) thus portrays her:
"Next on the course was Mrs. Harper, a colored woman, about as colored as some of the Cuban belles I have met at Saratoga. She has a noble head, this bronze muse; in a strong face with a shadowed glow upon it, indicative of thoughtful fervor and of a nature most femininely sensitive, but not in the least morbid. Her form is delicate, her
hands daintily small. She stands quietly besides her desk, and speaks without notes, with gestures few and fitting. Her manner is marked by dignity and composure. She is never assuming, never theatrical. In the first part of her lecture she was most impressive in her pleading for the race with whom her lot is cast. There was something touching in her attitude as their representative. The woe of two hundred years sighed through her tones. Every glance of her sad eyes was a mournful remonstrance against injustice and wrong. Feeling on her soul, as she must have felt it, the chilling weight of caste, she seemed to say,
'I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn.'
". . . As I listened to her, there swept over me, in a chill wave of horror, the realization that this noble woman had she not been rescued from her mother's condition, might have been sold on the auction block, to the highest bidder--her intellect, fancy, eloquence, the flashing wit, that might make the delight of a Parisian saloon, and her pure Christian character all thrown in--the recollection that women like her could be dragged out of public conveyances in our own city, or frowned out of fashionable churches by Anglo-Saxon saints."
The author esteems it a special and sacred privilege to have personally known Mrs. Harper, and, in her later years, to be regarded by her, a most devoted friend. As Frederick Douglass is often spoken of as the "Grand Old Man" of Maryland, in like manner, it is eminently fitting to think of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper as the "Grand Old Woman" of Maryland. In the ages yet to come, the redeemed and uplifted womanhood of the race will lovingly revert to the precious memories of the past, and rise up and call her blessed of the Lord.
The original settlement, in what is now the State of Maryland, was in St. Mary's county. St. Mary's county was the birthplace, and home, of the ancestors of the late Right Reverend James Theodore Holly, D. D., LL. D., the first Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the Republic of Haiti. Bishop Holly's grandfather assisted in laying out the District of Columbia. The parents of the Bishop moved from St. Mary's County to the District where young Holly was born. He was duly baptized in Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Georgetown, by a Roman Catholic priest who had fled to this country from Haiti, on account of the fury of the blacks during the revolution there. On the 4th of June, 1841, when he was 12 years of age, in the church of his Baptism, he was confirmed by Archbishop Eccleston, of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Archbishop Eccleston was a native of the Eastern Shore, and of one of the most distinguished families of Maryland. The Archbishop was formerly an Episcopalian, and, it was through another distinguished member of the Eccleston family that Bishop Holly, in after life, was greatly honored. The Rev. J. Houston Eccleston, D. D., was, for many years, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Baltimore. In this congregation are many of the wealthiest and most prominent white people of the State. On several occasions, on invitation of Dr. Eccleston, the rector, Bishop
Holly, addressed the congregation. A notable such occasion was on a certain Sunday evening when a great Missionary meeting was held in Emmanuel Church. Quite a number of Missionary Bishops were on the program as speakers. Bishop Holly was one among the number. He being the senior Bishop present, by consecration, was readily accorded every honor of that position. He not only delivered his address, but presented the offering, and lifted up his hands in solemn benediction over that great white congregation. Easily, within a stone's throw of the church, is the monument to Chief Justice Taney, who, about the time Bishop Holly was made a priest, delivered the famous opinion in the celebrated "Dred Scott's case" to the effect that a Negro had no rights which a white man was bound to respect.
Young Holly was born and reared in the Roman Communion, and there remained until he was twenty-two years of age. He was a shoemaker by trade, and, in the interest of his advancement along that line, he removed from Washington to Brooklyn, N. Y. Later, he removed to Detroit, Mich., where, in 1855, he was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church by the Bishop of Michigan the late Right Reverend Dr. Samuel A. McCoskry. Writing the present author, some years ago, Bishop Holly said, in part: "I was ordained deacon in 1855 with the express understanding that I should be sent to work in this mission field; as a matter of fact, two weeks after my ordination I set out from Michigan for New York; from whence I was sent ten days later by the Foreign Committee of the Church to collect information, as to the feasibility of establishing such a mission. I returned from thence with a favorable report. Six years were then spent in gaining pastoral experience for the work in view; and to this end I was advanced
to the Priesthood by the Bishop of Connecticut, on the 2nd of January, 1856, when I accepted the pastoral charge of St. Luke's Church, New Haven, in that diocese. Aside from the active pastoral work of that congregation, every fitting occasion was seized during those six years, to stir up an interest, by tongue, pen, and the press, in the contemplated mission. In 1861 my face was again set towards Haiti, accompanied by a company of 110 persons (of whom I was the pastor); for the practical establishment of the mission in this land."
In October, 1874, in the city of New York, the Rev. Dr. Holly was duly consecrated a Bishop in the Church of God, with jurisdiction in the republic of Haiti. Bishop Holly was the very first man of the African race to be made a Bishop, on American soil, by any of the historic Churches. His was a hard and trying field, in the midst of a population wholly given to the Roman Catholic Church, and unsettled, through frequent political revolutions. Yet, he bravely persevered in his work steadily advancing it, under all the trying and vexing conditions.
Both in America, and England, his character and learning were honored and respected. A number of years ago while attending one of the "Lambeth Conferences," embracing the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, throughout the world, he offered up in Westminster Abbey, that most beautiful and striking prayer which will live forever in the hearts of all Christian people of Hamitic descent. Here is the prayer:
"O, Thou Savior, Christ, Son of the Living God, who when Thou was spurned by the Jews of the race of Shem and, who when delivered up without cause by the Romans of the race of Japheth on the day of Thy ignominious Crucifixion, hadst Thy ponderous cross borne to Golgotha's
summit on the stalwart shoulders of Simon the Cyrenian, of the race of Ham, I pray Thee, O precious Savior, remember that forlorn, despised, and rejected race, whose son thus bore Thy Cross, when Thou shalt come in the power and majesty of Thy eternal Kingdom to distribute Thy crowns of everlasting glory.
"And give to me then, not a place at Thy right hand or at Thy left, but only the place of a gatekeeper at the entrance of the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, that I may behold my redeemed brethren, the saved of the Lord, entering therein to be partakers with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of all the joys of Thy glorious and everlasting Kingdom."
Bishop Holly was a great student, and intensely interested in every phase of racial life and advance. Until late years, he was a frequent contributor to race newspapers and magazines.
The death of Bishop Holly occurred at Port au Prince, Haiti, March 13, 1911. With respect to the funeral services, the following, from a private letter, received at the time, will give some idea of the esteem in which the Bishop was held by the people of that country. It says:
"No one remembers seeing such a funeral. The President sent a company of his Guard of Honor the Palace band (the best in the West Indies) and four aides-de-camp. There were six magnificent wreaths, and a profusion of bouquets. The crowd that followed was immense--the sidewalks and balconies were crowded with people to see the funeral go by. The Mayor of the city sent to inquire through what streets the procession would go, and then sent to have those streets perfectly cleared. People have told us that after the funeral they could not find a piece of mourning in town; everywhere they were told that 'Bishop Holly had cleaned them out,' so great was
the number of those who thought it their duty to take mourning for the Bishop. The funeral services began punctually at eight in the morning and it was one o'clock when we were leaving the Church yard where he was buried. There were eleven clergymen in attendance."
The following is a portion of a letter received by the author from Bishop Holly, nearly a quarter of a century ago:
. . . It is well for us to bear in mind that the day for the full and final deliverance of our race from political and ecclesiastical thraldom, will not dawn for us until that Great Event takes place. The Mosaic dispensation was Semitic. The Gospel dispensation is, principally, Japhetic. But the Milennial dispensation will be Hamitic. In the words of the Prayer Book version of the Psalms: "When God shall scatter the nations that delight in war, then shall Princes come out of Egypt, and the Morians land (Ethiopia) shall soon stretch out her hands unto God."
This will be the moment for the political and ecclesiastical deliverance of the African race. It will take place when the King of kings and Lord of lords shall have scattered the nations which delight in war. These are emphatically the Japhetic nations, nominally Christians, but armed at this moment to the teeth to destroy one another in defiance of the Gospel which they profess to believe
whose first sentence is, "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace and good-will towards men." Then that race whose son carried the Savior's Cross, while the Semitic and Japhetic races united to crucify Him, will wear the Dispensational Crown; being also the race, which in the person of the Ethiopian eunuch, furnished the first convert of pure Gentile blood (through a Jewish proselyte) and who hastened to stretch out his hand to God, when Philip drew near to him; and even to ask himself for Christian Baptism. The Lord is at hand. He is now knocking at the door of the Laodicean Church. Let us stand in our places and heed the exhortation which He addressed to all therein. Thus we shall be prepared to fulfill our mission in His Kingdom soon to be established on this earth. He was buffeted and spit upon in the presence of the Chief Ecclesiastics at His First Advent. He supported all patiently. If we would be like Him and have part with Him in His Kingdom, we must show the like patience under injuries. The condition of servitude meted out to our race for four thousand years, since the days of Noah, has been our training for greatness in the Kingdom of God.
It has indeed been our reproach during this domineering period of the Semitic and Japhetic Gentiles. But it will be no longer in Christ's Kingdom. For he that has fully imbibed the spirit of being the servant of all shall be the greatest of all therein. The Master has given us that assurance. And He illustrated what kind of service He meant at the Last Supper by serving at Table Himself, and by washing His disciples feet after Supper. This is the kind of service in which we have been trained and so far as it has been followed in the right spirit, we can not doubt what will be our great reward when the war-like Japhetic
nations shall be dashed in pieces at His Coming. Hence, I would exhort against anything like a schismatic spirit.
The Semitic and Japhetic nations are essentially schismatical. They divide all their religions up into sects, and schools of thought, and ecclesiastical parties. Our contact with them has produced similar divisions amongst us. But it is not a religious peculiarity innate in the African mind. There is a unity in the dead level of African fetichism. The unity in the truth for which the Savior prayed so earnestly after Supper and before He went forth to His Agony in the Garden, will come forth from beneath this dead level of error as the glad response at last, to His earnest prayer, when the Spirit of God shall sweep over the valley of African dry bones around the Congo, on the Niger, and on the banks of the St. Paul; when He shall come in His Glory."
Only a Marylander by adoption, the name of William Levington is entitled to appear side by side with the most distinguished names of men of African descent born on the soil of Maryland. Born in New York during the year 1793, as a young man we find him in the city of Philadelphia, in connection with St. Thomas' Church, that city, which was established the very year Mr. Levington was born. He was ordained to the ministry of the Episcopal Church, in St. Thomas' Church, in the month of March, 1824, by Bishop White, who, in the same church about 30 years before, had ordained Absalom Jones, the founder of that Church, and the very first colored man, in this country, admitted to the ministry of the Episcopal Church. It is most pleasing, when we remember the social condition of the people of color, of those very early days, to note the
enthusiasm, boldness, and courage, of a young colored man, only thirty years of age, of free ancestry, indicated in his settled determination to turn his face towards the Southland and proceed to the very house of bondage, and, in the midst of the slave pen and the auction block, under the protection of Almighty God, endeavor to plant a Negro Church, of the Episcopal faith, and raise over its edifice the sign of the conquering Cross. Thus did William Levington. Almost immediately after holy hands had been laid upon his head, he left Philadelphia and came to the city of Baltimore. He looked the field over. He returned to Philadelphia, and after a short stay, again returned to Baltimore, and on the 22nd day of June of that same year, in an "upper room" on the corner of Park and Marion streets, secured for that purpose, initiated the present St. James First African Protestant Episcopal Church. In that same place was also begun by Mr. Levington a day school for the benefit of free African Children. He labored incessantly in building up his school, the congregation, and also in procuring a permanent home for the work. A lot was secured on the corner of Saratoga and North streets, and on the 10th of October, 1826, the cornerstone of St. James First African Church was duly laid. On the 31st of the following March the little band yielded up their upper room and took possession of their new church, which was on that day consecrated to the services of Almighty God, by Bishop Kemp, of Maryland. It was a day of peculiar significance to the descendants of the African race for all times to come, for it was the first occasion, anywhere in the South, where a local branch of any of the existing white churches, had been initiated among the people of the African race, with all the powers of self-government, as well as with an educated pastor of the same race
as the congregation. And, then, too, a day school for free African children was attached to the church. That such a venture had the full approbation of the white Episcopal Church, in the diocese of Maryland, is attested by the fact, that at that very first service of opening, were gathered together, in the chancel, and participated in the services the Bishop, and the rectors of the two white parishes in the city of Baltimore, St. Paul and St. Peter's Churches. Bishop Kemp, in making the entry of that service said:
"On the 31st of the same month I consecrated to the service of Almighty God, a very neat church in the city of Baltimore, for the use of the people of color under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Levington. Morning Prayer was read by the Rev. Dr. Wyatt, and the sermon preached by the Rev. Mr. Henshaw. The congregation was large and devout, the responses were well made, and the chanting and singing quite delightful."
The Church was duly incorporated in 1829, under the laws of the State of Maryland. In all of the present author's research and investigation he has not yet come across any older incorporated body of people of African descent than the corporation of St. James First African Church, in the State of Maryland. In 1828, Mr. Levington was advanced to the Priesthood, in Philadelphia, by the same Bishop White who had ordained him a deacon. The Bishopric of Maryland being vacant, through the death of Bishop Kemp, the Maryland authorities requested the Pennsylvania ecclesiastical head to act. Bishop White makes the following entry with respect to the ordination:
"On the 23rd of March (1828) in the African Church of St. Thomas, in this city, at the desire of the Standing Committee of the diocese of Maryland, I ordained to the holy office of Priest William Levington, a colored man, settled in the city of Baltimore."
The work of the Rev. Mr. Levington was a very arduous and exacting one, under abnormal and unusual difficulties. It was in the midst of a population, half free, and half slave. His was a work of bringing both together in the worship of the common God and Father of all. He was forced to make several trips north to secure the means for the liquidation of the debt incurred in the erection of the church. The late Mrs. Wayman, wife of the late African Methodist Bishop Wayman, frequently talked with the author with respect to the days she spent as a pupil in the school taught by Mr. Levington. Bishop Coppin, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, himself a native of Maryland, also, a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School, Philadelphia, yields high praise to Mr. Levington, for it was Mr. Levington who instructed the Bishop's mother, and it was from his own mother, in good old Maryland, that Levi J. Coppin got his first intellectual start.
From the last report of Mr. Levington, to the Episcopal diocesan convention, the following is taken:
"The Rector of St. James First African Protestant Episcopal Church, in the city of Baltimore, reports that the church was happily reared at the expense of $2,300. The rector has visited the Northern and Eastern States the third time, and solicited aid for the church, to exonerate her of debt; and his last visit was made during the past summer, and on his return January, 1834, he paid six hundred and ten dollars of the debt, and also got the church insured until January 1, 1841. The debt now against the church is $673.37. The rector would say, that although the Constitution of the Church gives to those of his brethren, who are in bondage, the right of membership in the Church, much dissatisfaction has prevailed
among some of his free brethren; yet, with the blessing of the great Head of the Church, it has been happily and finally settled. He thanks God that he has long since seen that a Gospel Christian bondsman will be a righteous servant, and for this, and other reasons, he does not forget to instruct them in the exercises of the sanctuary; for he remembers them that are in bonds, as bound with them." This faithful pioneer missionary, two years later, in May, 1836, fell on sleep, being only in his 43rd year. Although comparatively young when he entered upon eternal rest, he had succeeded in doing a great work which should have a telling effect during all the years to follow. Like his Master, he had no where to lay his head. He gave himself, and all that came to him. When he died, he had not sufficient of this world's goods to defray his funeral expenses. His dear friend, the Rev. Dr. Henshaw, rector of St. Peter's Church (afterwards, Bishop of Rhode Island) not only officiated at his funeral, but sustained the cost of burial.
And, yet, from that one life, good permanent results are not wanting. Through his influence William Douglass entered the Church, and its ministry. And from the church which he planted, ordained within its walls, went forth Eli Worthington Stokes who established St. Luke's Church, New Haven, Conn., freed the Church in Providence of debt, by a pilgrimage to England, where he was helped by the two Archbishops, and other dignitaries of that Church, and, returning to America, went forth to Africa as a missionary, where he labored and died. From the same source, issued Harrison H. Webb, an educator, and successor to the founder. With forty members of the church planted by Levington the present St. Mary's congregation, of this city, was begun. Former communicants
of the same old historic church, who entered the ministry, have established Episcopal Churches in Chicago, St. Louis, Atlantic City, Florida, and elsewhere. Such are some of the results of the life of a young free Negro, who, in entering the Priesthood of the Church, offered up that life as a willing sacrifice, for God and his brethren sake, on soil which hitherto had not been trodden by any Priestly man, of African descent. And that, too, in close proximity to the slave pen and auction block.
Just a little beyond the line separating Maryland from the State of Pennsylvania, in Adams county of the Keystone commonwealth lived William and Phebe Wright, good and true members of the Society of Friends. In the fall of the year 1828, as Phebe Wright, surrounded by her little children came out upon the back porch of her home, in the performance of some domestic task, she saw standing before her in the shade of the early November morn, a colored man without hat, shoes or coat. The stranger inquired whether Mr. Wright lived there, and, receiving an affirmative answer, he said that he wanted work. The good woman took in the situation at a glance. She invited him into the house to warm, and wait the arrival of Mr. Wright. He was shivering with cold and fright. When Mr. Wright had arrived the fugitive told his story. He came from Hagerstown, Md., where he had been taught the blacksmith's
trade. In following this business, it was his duty to keep an account of all the work done by him, which record he showed to his master at the end of each week. Knowing no written character but the figure "5," he kept this account by means of a curious system of hieroglyphics in which straight marks meant horse shoes put on, circles, cart-wheels fixed, etc. One day he chanced to see his master's book, and he noticed that wherever 5 and 1 were added, the figure 6 followed. He practised this until it was perfectly familiar to him; and, ever afterwards used it in keeping his accounts. One day as his master was inspecting his books he noticed the new character, and compelled Pennington to tell how he had learned it. The master flew into a rage, and said: "I'll teach you how to be learning new figures," and picking up a horse shoe threw it at him, but, fortunately, for the chattel, missed him. So genuine was the moral development in the nature of Pennington, that, notwithstanding his thirst for freedom, he considered it his duty to remain with his master until he became one and twenty years of age, so as to repay, by his labor, the trouble and expense of the master in rearing him. But, the night of the 21st anniversary of his birth was, indeed, a memorable occasion, for it was that same night that he turned his face towards the North star in a desperate effort to reach a land of freedom. So, on that very evening he started out on his pilgrimage for liberty. Upon arriving at Reisterstown, about twenty-five miles from Baltimore, and about thirty-five miles from Mr. Wright's home, he was arrested, and placed in a bar-room, connected with the tavern, in the care of the landlady, to wait until his captors had finished their supper. The landlady, engaged in getting supper, set him to watch the cakes that were baking. As she was passing back and
forth, he ostentatiously removed his hat, coat, and shoes. Having done this, he remarked to her, "I'll step out a moment." This he did, she sending a boy to watch him. When the boy came out, he suddenly appeared very sick, and called hastily for water. The boy ran in to get it. Now was the break for liberty or death. Now was his opportunity. Jumping the fence he ran to a clump of trees which occupied low ground behind the house, and concealing himself in it for a moment, ran, and continued to run, he knew not wither, until he found himself at the toll-gate near Petersburg, in Adam's county. Before this he had kept in the fields and forests, but now found himself compelled to come out upon the road. The toll-gate keeper, seeing at once that he was a fugitive, said to him, "I guess you don't know the road." "I guess I can find it myself" was the reply. "Let me show you," said the man. "You may, if you please," replied the fugitive. Taking him out behind his dwelling, he pointed across the fields to a new brick farm-house, and said, "Go there, and inquire for Mr. Wright." The slave thanked him, and did as he was directed. Here was a man hardly out of the house of bondage who was destined to show forth in himself the great possibilities of a whole race of people denied the opportunity of manifesting the wonders of God in-wrought in them. Pennington only remained with William Wright until the following April, but, during this period, short as it was, in addition to his daily labors on the farm, he learned to read, write and cipher, as far as the single rule of three, as it was then called, or simple proportion. During his stay here, nothing could exceed his gratitude to the whole family. He learned, also, how to graft trees, and thus rendered great assistance to Mr. Wright in his business. When working in the kitchen, during the winter, he
would never permit Mrs. Wright to perform any hard labor; he always scrubbed the floors, and lifted heavy burdens for her. Before leaving the circle of Mr. Wright's family, he assumed a name which his talents, perseverance, and genius, have rendered famous in both hemispheres; that of James W. C. Pennington. W. was in honor of his benefactor's family, while C. was for the family of his former master. Leaving the home of Mr. Wright, he gradually made his way to New Haven, Conn. Here, while performing the duties of janitor of Yale University, he completed the studies of the regular college course.
Sometime afterwards, he visited England where he delivered addresses on behalf of the Anti-Slavery cause. A story has often been told of him in connection with a visit to one of the great Universities of Scotland. It is said that he displayed such marvelous ability, was so profound as a thinker, and rhetorician, that the University was about to confer on him the honorary degree of Doctor in Divinity. But, Mr. Pennington objected. He is reported as having said, in substance, "No, gentlemen; I have too much respect for the degree to run the risk of seeing it placed upon the auction block; for it is possible, on my return to America, that I might be seized and placed upon the auction block, and sold to the highest bidder." But, finally, he did get the degree. For, later, he sojourned for awhile at Heidelburg in Germany, where the degree was conferred upon him. He returned to this country, and became the Pastor of Shiloh Presbyterian Church, New York City. While in such position, he was most active in the work of the Anti-Slavery cause. The story of his escape, and wonderful abilities, was spread over England. An American acquaintance of the Wright family was astonished, in visiting an Anti-Slavery fair in London, many years ago, to
see among the pictures for sale there, one entitled, "William and Phebe Wright receiving James W. C. Pennington." Dr. Pennington died in Florida, in 1870, whither he had gone to preach, and assist in opening schools among the Freedmen.
Nearly a quarter of a century, after the escape from slavery of Dr. Pennington, while he was pastor of the church in New York, efforts were made to effect the escape of his brother who was still in slavery in Maryland. In due season, his brother, and his brother's two sons, were on their way, by way of the Underground Railroad, to the city of New York. At the very time the Dr.'s anxiety was very great with respect to their safety, they had arrived in the city of New York, and being pursued by slave officers, had been overtaken and hurriedly carried before a commissioner, and by him were ordered to be returned to Maryland. It was very great grief and disappointment to Dr. Pennington, that his brother, and his brother's sons, had been captured and returned to slavery in Maryland before he had been able to learn of their presence in that city. A meeting was held in Shiloh Church, New York, on the evening of May 27, 1854, and the following account of the same will prove of interest:
"Last evening the church at the corner of Prince and Marion streets was filled with an intelligent audience of white and colored people, to hear Dr. Pennington relate the circumstances connected with the arrest of his brother and nephews. He showed that he attempted to afford his brother the assistance of counsel, but was unable to do so, the officers at the Marshal's office having deceived him in relation to the time the trial was to take place before the Commissioners. Hon. E. F. Culver next addressed the audience, showing that a great injustice had been done to
the brother of Dr. Pennington, and though he, up to that time, had advocated peace, he now had the spirit to tear down the building over the Marshal's head. Intense interest was manifested during the proceedings, and much sympathy in behalf of Dr. Pennington."
In a day or two, Dr. Pennington received a letter from Mr. Grove, the claimant of his brother, offering to sell him to Dr. Pennington, should he wish to buy him, and stating that he would await a reply, before "selling him to the slave-drivers." In the midst of the Dr.'s grief, friends of the slave soon raised money to purchase his brother, about $1,000; but the unfortunate sons were doomed to the auction block and the far South.
Dr. Pennington addressed a Convention of Colored Citizens, held in Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 1852, and the following is from a phonographic report at the time:
"The doctor took the stand and delighted the convention with a brilliant and instructive address on the part which the Colored People have taken in the struggles of this Nation for independence, and in its various wars since its achievement.
Dr. Pennington is a graduate of America's Peculiar Institution (slavery). His graduation fees were paid only very recently by the beneficence of sundry English ladies and gentlemen; and his Doctorate of Divinity was conferred upon him by one of the German Universities.
He claimed for his race the honor of being the first Americans whose bosoms were fired by the spirit of American Independence. The documentary evidence presented by him showed that some thousands of Colored People in the State of New York, thirty years before the Declaration of Independence, were charged by the King of Great Britain with conspiring against his authority, attempting to throw off their obedience to him, and seeking to possess themselves of the Government of the Colony of New York. Some of them were banished, and other were hanged. Those Colored fathers, said the Rev. Doctor, attributed their slavery to King George, and maintained their rights to freedom to be inviolable.
Subsequently, when the White fathers of the Revolution, "walking in the footsteps of their illustrious Colored predecessors," declared against Britain's King, they said to them: That King did make you slaves. Now come and help us to break his rule in this country, and that done, we'll all be free together.
Dr. Pennington exhibited to the audience an autograph petition of the Colored People of Connecticut to the Government of the State, presented immediately after the Revolutionary War, and praying that Government to comply with the promise which had been made them of freedom, and under which they had helped to fight the battles of that war.
He read also, an autograph paper of Washington, dismissing from the service of that war, with high recommendation of their courage and efficiency, several Colored men; and also certificates of a like character from a number of officers, both naval and military, in both wars with England.
The following article, "The Destiny of the Colored
Race in the United States," by the Rev. Dr.
Pennington, Was Contributed to and
Published in the "Christian
Recorder" During the
"It was remarked by a distinguished statesman that the future destiny of the Colored race will be identified with the interests of the Anglo-Saxon race in America. That sentiment will be verified. The Colored race will never be entirely separated or removed from this country as a race, and located somewhere else. History forbids the indulgence of the supposition. Nowhere in the history of nations, where slavery has existed, have the enslaved been entirely separated or removed from the land of their oppression, except in the solitary instance of the Hebrews from Egypt, and their separation was the effect of Heaven's purpose, or their destiny to this day would have been identified to some extent with the land of Miriam. The Grecian and Roman slaves, after their emancipation, had their destiny with those nations, and rose to every degree of distinction as laborers, mechanics, merchants, agriculturists, manufacturers, men of science and literature, men of professions--in religion, in medicine, in law, and the military profession. In all of the Atlantic Islands dependent
upon Spain, France and England, where slavery has obtained and emancipation has taken place, the emancipated remain upon the soil, and have, and are becoming the owners of the same to a considerable extent, and are rapidly rising in the scale of civilization, like the cloudless sun appearing above the horizon, bending his way to the high point of the zenith, scattering darkness and diffusing warmth and light abroad; so they in whose favor right has triumphed over wrong, and truth over error, are rising above the night of ignorance and slavery, to the bright zenith of civil, social, political and religious privileges.
Such will be the destiny of the Colored race in this country. That thousands will emigrate while their condition is being agitated, to escape from the noise and the strife of the mighty contest, between truth and error, like those who live in the immediate vicinity of the battlefield, to secure their safety and avoid the sight of the deadly onslaught, flee to more remote parts, is not denied. Some will take the false advice of the Colonizer, that their condition can only be improved materially by breaking up every tie and happy association of their native and civilized land, and going to a purely heathen and, to a great extent, barbarous country.
A few attracted by the fact that Haiti has a government conducted by their colored brethren, will seek repose under the shades of the mountains of that eventful island, and be protected by the laws of the second colored emperor in the history of man. Others, in consequence of the known humanity and benevolence of the British isles towards the Colored race will go there to share their hospitality and good-will, and will improve as those islands are rapidly advancing in all the arts of civilized life.
Many hundreds, amid a thousand opposing difficulties, will cross our inland seas to the country reserved by a beneficent Providence for the safe repose of abused humanity, and find comfort and succor under British laws, while two opposing elements, truth and error, shall be contested upon the field of right for the unconditional freedom of the captive on the one side, and his continued servitude on the other. Truth, it is pleasing to reflect, being armed can-a-pie with omnipotent energy, will doubtless place her victorious flag upon the high summit of conquest, and command the admiration and shouts of an exulting world. While this fearful contest shall be going on, the refugee on British soil will be advancing in personal improvement, in mental culture, in the arts and sciences, and the acquisition of ownership in the soil--all of which combined will secure for them a public respect and confidence such as will make them feel at home and at ease. But the millions will remain in this country, and be identified with the history of the white race, be that history what it may.
Way back in the "forties," in the city of Baltimore, were two brothers, Eli and Darius Stokes, who figured conspicuously in the life of the colored people of the city. Darius was a local preacher in Bethel A. M. E. Church, while his brother, Eli, was a prominent member of St.
James First African Church. These two colored congregations were the only ones having colored pastors. The buildings of each were only about two blocks distant, and good Christian feeling, and co-operation, existed between the members of the two congregations.
The first important notice of Eli Stokes is in connection with his ordination to the Episcopal ministry. The edifice of St. James was erected in the year 1826-7, and, the ordination of Mr. Stokes was the first to take place therein. It occurred on the 1st day of October, 1843, and the celebrated and learned Bishop Whittingham officiated. As High Churchman as was Bishop Whittingham, yet it is a fact that he was most kindly disposed towards many of the African Methodist preachers of that day. The present author distinctly remembers a conversation between the venerable Bishop Henry M. Turner, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, some years ago, at the Episcopal Residence in Baltimore, and the late Bishop Paret, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in which conversation, Bishop Turner declared, that many years before, he had gained his first knowledge of Greek in that very house from the lips of the late Bishop Whittingham. Possibly, it would be quite interesting to note, that the occasion responsible for the presence of Bishop Turner at the Episcopal Residence, was in response to an invitation from the late Bishop Paret, to the entire "house of Bishops" of the A. M. E. Church, at that time holding session in the city of Baltimore. The invitation was generously accepted, and every one of the Bishops were present. The interview, which was most cordial, all around, lasted for nearly three hours. We have digressed to make mention of this unusual occurrence, which is without a parallel, anywhere in the United States.
But, to return to the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Stokes. In making the entry of the ordination, Bishop Whittingham said:
"On the 16th Sunday after Trinity, October 1, at a special ordination held in St. James First African Church, in Baltimore, I admitted to the Holy Order of Deacons, Elie Worthington Stokes, a colored man presented by the Rev. J. N. McJilton. His case involving some peculiarities, I consulted on it both the Standing Committee and a council of Presbyters especially convened; and acted finally under the advice of both."
Upon being ordained, Mr. Stokes did not tarry very long in Maryland, but, going to New Haven, Conn., he succeeded in gathering sufficient colored communicants together, from the various white churches, and organized St. Luke's Church of that city. This church was organized in June, 1844, and during that very same month was duly received into union with the diocesan convention of Connecticut. Mr. Stokes remained in New Haven about two years, during which time he was advanced to the Priesthood by the Bishop of Connecticut. The occasion of his leaving Connecticut was in response to an invitation from his old friend (formerly the Rev. Mr. Henshaw, of Baltimore) then, Bishop of Rhode Island, to accept a similar work in the city of Providence. Here he remained for about four years, but, in that time, not only did good work, but with the approval of his Bishop, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, visited England and collected sufficient money to free of debt his little (Christ) Church, Providence. The mention of this visit, by Bishop Henshaw, in his Episcopal address, is extremely gracious. In part, the Bishop said:
"At the time of the meeting of the last convention, the
Rev. Eli W. Stokes, rector of Christ Church, in this city, was absent in Europe for the purpose of soliciting funds to liquidate the debt by which that parish has been embarrassed ever since their house of worship was erected. In consequence of a certificate, required by the laws of England, furnished by me, he was received with great kindness by the Archbishops, Bishops and Clergy of our Mother Church; and I am happy to inform you that his mission was crowned with entire success, and the liberal contributions which he received in that distant land enabled the gentlemen holding the property, in trust, to make a satisfactory settlement with the mortgagees."
But, Colored Episcopalians in Providence were few and poor, and, not being able to obtain an adequate support, Mr. Stokes accepted an appointment as Missionary to Africa. There he labored most faithfully. As early as in the "fifties," Mr. Stokes, together with the late Rev. Dr. Crummell, who was then in Africa, assisted in organizing the "Liberian Church," hoping thereby, to force the Church in the United States to give to the African Mission a Negro Bishop.
After hard, incessant, and heroic labors, as a missionary, he died on the field, in Africa. An account of his death, under date of February 27, 1867, was furnished the "Spirit of Mission," from which the following is taken:
"His death will be greatly felt just now in our Mission. Mr. Stokes was a thorough going, energetic, working old man. He went to Crozerville with his heart set to make and to leave the work of his divine Master's hand upon the place. He died in the faith of the Gospel he had preached. Though Mr. Stokes was not a strong and ablebodied man, he was full of faith and abounded in charity towards the poor. How often he has divided his last crust of bread,
God only knows. It appears to us, that on these points, he never calculated his own interests. He was reduced more by the want of the real necessities of life, at last, than by sickness, is the opinion of the doctors and all who saw and attended him. Nourishment could not rally his exhausted strength. The people of his own parish were very poor, and Eli Stokes was not the man to look upon this and not act. The people at Crozerville had already learned to love and respect him. His work told that he was on the ground. He had established day and Sabbath Schools, and preached and held services at Crozerville and Carysburg. He was found in a hut lying on a mat, and an old blanket under his head. Mr. David, senior warden of St. John's, New York, heard of his illness and visited him; he was brought in almost a dying state to his house. Dr. McGill, of the firm of McGill Brothers, was soon on the ground (eighteen miles from Monrovia) with such nourishments which would, it was hoped, bring him upon his feet again. The doctor repeated the visit, and Mr. David, wife and friends, did all that could be done, but he sank until the 26th of February and died. Nearly all of his talk, as long as he could talk, and when he could not be understood, seemed to be of the Missionary work here, and the troubles that retarded it. He was buried at Woodlawn, by a brook, under a Palm tree."
There is hardly a more picturesque character among the workers and traffic managers of the "Underground Railroad" than Harriet Tubman, who was born in Maryland, when men and women were slave property. In 1848, when she was between twenty and twenty five years of age she made her escape from the house of bondage. The thing that strengthened her will and aroused her determination to
make a break for freedom, was the thought of herself and brothers being "sold South." As she said, guided only by the North Star, she and her brothers started out for freedom. But after they had gone some distance, through fear that they would not succeed, like Lot's wife, her brothers turned back. Harriet, however, continued her journey alone, and reached the promised land. But, so intense was her love for her people that she determined to become a "Moses," in the work of the great Underground Railroad. She made nineteen different trips in the South and safely conducted more than three hundred persons to freedom in the Northern States, and Canada. A most remarkable thing it is that not a single fugitive under her direction was ever captured. During the Civil War she was employed in the secret service of the United States Army, and, during the last year of the war, she was armed with papers which admitted her through the lines of the army in any part of the country. In the history, by Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart, is given a unique description of the battle of Gettysburg, from the lips of Harriet Tubman, to the historian. A sentence from that description is as follows:
"And then we saw the lightning, and that was the guns; and, then we heard the rainfall, and that was the drops of blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops it was dead men that we reaped."
Mr. William Still, in his invaluable work, describes the subject of our sketch, as follows:
"Harriet was a woman of no pretensions, indeed, a more ordinary specimen of humanity could hardly be found among the most unfortunate-looking farm hands of the South. Yet, in point of courage, shrewdness and disinterested exertions to rescue her fellow-men, by making personal visits to Maryland among the slaves, she was
without her equal.
"Her success was wonderful. Time and again she made successful visits to Maryland on the Underground Railroad, and would be absent for weeks, at a time, running risks while making preparations for herself and passengers. Great fears were entertained for her safety, but she seemed wholly devoid of personal fear. The idea of being captured by slave-hunters or slave-holders, seemed never to enter her mind. She was apparently proof against all adversaries. While she thus manifested such utter personal indifference, she was much more watchful with regard to those she was piloting. Half of her time, she had the appearance of one asleep, and would actually sit down by the road side and go fast asleep, when on her errands of mercy through the South, yet, she would not suffer one of her party to whimper once, about "giving out or going back," however wearied they might be from hard travel day and night. She had a very short and pointed rule of law of her own, which implied death to any who talked of giving out and going back. Thus, in an emergency she would give all to understand that "times were very critical and therefore no foolishness would be indulged in on the road." That several who were rather week-kneed and faint-hearted were greatly invigorated by Harriet's blunt and positive manner and threat of extreme measures, there could be no doubt. After having once enlisted, "they had to go through or die." Of course Harriet was supreme, and her followers generally had full faith in her, and would back up any word she might utter. So when she said to them that "a live runaway could do great harm by going back, but that a dead one could tell no secrets," she was sure to have obedience. Her like it is probable was never known before or since."
Harriet Tubman's last trip into Maryland is graphically given in Mr. Still's "Underground Railroad." It was in the year 1860, and she led five passengers, of Dorchester county, out of bondage into freedom; a man, his wife, and three children, one of the children being a babe in the arms of her mother. The following note from the great Thomas Garrett, whose name was enrolled in the Lamb's Book of Life, long ago, will throw light upon these last arrivals. Mr. Garrett says:
"I write to let thee know that Harriet Tubman is again in these parts. She arrived last evening from one of her trips of mercy to God's poor, bringing two men with her as far as New Castle. I agreed to pay a man last evening to pilot them on their way to Chester county; the wife of one of the men, with two or three children, was left some thirty miles below, and I gave Harriet ten dollars, to hire a man with a carriage, to take them to Chester county. She said a man had offered for that sum to bring them on. I shall be very uneasy about them till I hear they are safe. There is now much more risk on the road, till they arrive here, than there has been for several months past, as we find that some poor, worthless wretches are constantly on the look out on two roads, that they can not well avoid, more especially with carriage, yet, as it is Harriet who seems to have had a special angel to guard her on her journey of mercy, I have hope. Thy Friend, THOMAS GARRETT, Wilmington, Del."
These slaves from Maryland, were the last that Harriet Tubman piloted out of the prison-house of bondage, and these "came through great tribulation."
Stephen, the husband, had been a slave of John Kaiger, who would not allow him to live with his wife. She lived eight miles distant, hired her time, maintained herself, and
took care of her little children (until they became of service to their owner) and paid ten dollars a year for her hire. She was owned by Algier Pearcy. Both mother and father desired to deliver their children from his grasp. They had too much intelligence to bear the heavy burdens thus imposed without feeling the pressure a grevious one.
Harriet Tubman being well acquainted in the neighborhood, and knowing of their situation, and having confidence that they would prove true, as passengers on the Underground Railroad, engaged to pilot them within reach of Wilmington, at least to Thomas Garrett's. Thus the father and mother, with their children, and a young man named John, found aid and comfort on their way with Harriet for their "Moses." A poor woman escaping from Baltimore in a delicate state, happened to meet Harriett's party at the station and was forwarded on with them. They were cheered with clothing, food and material aid, and sped on to Canada.
This great "Moses," Mrs. Tubman Davis, after the Civil War, made Auburn, N. Y., her home, and established there a home for aged colored people. She entered into rest eternal on the tenth of March, 1913. On Friday, June 12th, 1914, at the Auditorium, in Auburn, was unveiled a tablet in honor of this great and good woman. It was provided by the Cayuga County Historical Society, and Dr. Booker T. Washington was the chief speaker on the occasion. The ceremonies were attended by great crowds, both colored and white citizens, to do honor to the memory of such a unique and interesting character.
Thomas M. D. Ward, the 10th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was born "just over the line," in the State of Pennsylvania. His parents were Marylanders, and had crossed over only a few months before the infant Thomas was born. His birth was in 1823. At a very early age he removed to the city of Philadelphia, where he connected himself with the A. M. E. Church. Being ordained to the ministry, he was sent out as a Missionary on the Pacific Coast, where he labored with good success. In 1868, he was made a Bishop, and took up his work in the same section of the country where he had so successfully labored as pastor. He was generally, and favorably, known as one of the greatest orators of his day. Not only was he truly eloquent, but was richly endowed with a poetic nature. The poem given below was written by him, sometime in the fifties, long before he became a Bishop.
My soul, the conflict grows severe,
The troops of hell are drawing near--
But the strong guard that for the fight
Will guide thee to the worlds of light.
Gird on thy arms, march to the field,
With glittering blade and burnished shield;
High floats the spotless flag of truth,
Upborne by hands that never droop.
The battle trump sounds long and loud,
Bidding each warrior grasp his sword;
Jehovah's great Eternal Son
Will lead the fearless army on.
Methinks I hear the glorious shout--
The victory's won, the battle's fought,
Emmanuel's troops have won the day--
His foes have fled in wild dismay.
No more the clarion sound we hear
Thrilling each heart with hope and fear;
The warrior wears the victor's palm
High in the bright and better land.
There is the realms of endless day
Where stirring zephyrs softly play,
We'll stand amid the spotless throng
And chant Redemption's gladsome song.
Cease not the strife, my blood-bought soul;
Press onward to the blissful goal--
Broad streams of everlasting light
Will burst upon thy ravish'd sight.
Alexander W. Wayman, the 7th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Caroline county. Maryland, during the month of September, 1821. He was brought up upon a farm, and for a long while followed agricultural life. Like a number of prominent colored men of his class, he educated himself. In 1840 he united with the A. M. E. Church, and, three years later, was admitted to the ministry of that Church. After pastoring congregations in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, he was finally made a Bishop. He had his residence in the city of Baltimore for quite a number of years, and it was in Baltimore that he entered into eternal rest. He was a man of very great character, earnest and powerful as a preacher, and was universally beloved by both white and colored people, in all walks of life. He died in Baltimore on November 30th, 1895.
In Bishop Handy's "Scraps" of history, the following address uttered by Bishop Wayman, appears:
"In some of our Conferences, we had often been discussing the propriety of sending missionaries to Haiti and Africa. I said never would I consent to go, or assist in sending any one there, until I could go all over the South to see my brethren. I had for some years selected the text to preach from when I went there, 'I seek my brethren,' Gen. xxxvii, 16."
In the autumn of 1863 I received information that the
colored people, members of the Bute St. M. E. Church South, in Norfolk, Va., were left as sheep without a shepherd, and they desired to unite with the Baltimore Conference of the A. M. E. Church if I would come down and see them. I said, "Here is an opportunity to preach my text, I seek my brethren." I went to the provost Marshal for a "pass" to Norfolk. He said Military affairs never interfered with religious affairs, and therefore I would have to write to Norfolk for what I wanted. I told him that the Military had us hemmed in on every side; we could not go or come without their permission. He finally said to his clerk: "Give this man a pass to Norfolk, Va."
Saturday afternoon came. I was off to old Virginia. The night was very pleasant, indeed, and I was treated very kindly indeed, by the steward and waiters; for some of them were members of our church. Brother Peter Shepherd, now a member of the Virginia Conference, met me at the boat, and took me to the Church to see Sunday School in operation. In the afternoon, Rev. Mr. Greely, who had been temporarily serving them, administered the Lord's Supper. At night I was permitted to take my text: "I seek my brethren." They announced preaching for Monday afternoon, and a meeting of all the official members for Monday night. Monday afternoon I addressed the congregation from the text: "We are journeying to the place of which the Lord said I will give it thee; come thou with us and we will do thee good." Num. x. 29. At night the Board met. I had prepared an instrument in writing for them to sign if they agreed to unite with us. After it was read, one man said, "I move we adopt it," and while they were discussing, another brother said, "Let us vote, for I am all on fire for it." The vote was taken,
and carried unanimously. I spoke again on Wednesday night, text: "We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." Zach. viii. 23. The secretary read to the congregation what the Official Board had done, and they took a vote and indorsed it. I returned to Baltimore rejoicing that I had preached my text in old Virginia, "I seek my brethren," and had taken a church of eight hundred members, and the following named ministers: R. H. Parker, James Tynes, Peter Shepherd, Americus Woodhouse and Amos Wilson.
Samuel Ringgold Ward was born in the State of Maryland about the year 1817. His parents fled from slavery to New York, carrying Samuel, in his infancy. His early education was received in connection with the African Free School, of that city, which was then taught by a gentleman of Scotch descent, Mr. C. C. Andrew. General Lafayette, on September 10, 1824, paid this school a visit, and placing his hands on the heads of all the boys present, gave them a hearty "God Bless You." Ward took early to public speaking, and very soon became a lecturer of the anti-Slavery cause. In fact, so eminent had he become by reason of his oratorical powers, that for two years he was pastor of the White Congregational Church of South Butler, Wayne county, New York. He was quite heavily built, six feet tall, of the blackest skin, so black that as Wendell Phillips observed, "when he shut his eyes you could not see him." He gave up the pastorate of the white congregation because of the increase of his lecturing work. For awhile he was a joint editor of the "True American," published at Cortland, N. Y. A little later, he established and published the "Impartial Citizen," at Syracuse, N. Y. During that most exciting period, following the enforcement of the "Fugitive Slave Act," upon his return to Syracuse, from lecturing tours, great excitement prevailed with respect to the efforts of slave captors in securing a certain fugitive confined in the jail, and returning him to slavery. Ward was with those who stormed the jail, secured the fugitive, and rushed him to Canada. Several of the leaders were arrested, including Gerritt Smith, and it was thought advisable for Ward himself to flee into Canada. He went to Canada, expecting to return shortly, after the commotion had subsided. But he remained there
for two years, and interested himself in the improvement of the condition of his people there. After two years residence he took the claims of his people, and made a trip to England, where he placed them before the assembled benevolences of that country at the May anniversaries of 1853. He remained there for two years, lecturing and preaching, where he achieved both fame and fortune. The noted British clergyman, Dr. John Campbell, wrote in the British "Banner:" "Mr. Ward, since his arrival in England has been most severely tested--tested beyond every other man of color that ever came to these shores. He has been called to speak in all sorts of meetings, upon all sorts of subjects, under every variety of circumstances, side by side with the first men of the time, and in no case has he failed to acquit himself with honor. With intellectual power and rhetorical ability of a very high order, he has not merely sustained the first impressions he produced, but materially added to them."
While in England he put forth, in book form, "The Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro," which embraced not only the facts about his own life, but an exact statement of the slave question in America. It was among the very ablest expositions of the relation of the races in this country. Towards the end of his most pleasing stay in England, an admiring friend gave him a farm situated in the Island of Jamaica, and to this he went upon leaving Great Britain. He resided in Kingston where he pastored a church, with great success, for several years. He died there in 1867, without ever having returned to America. Fitting, in this connection, it is to quote from one of his speeches in his earlier life, in America. He said: "It is among the most pleasing of one's anticipations of the happiness of the future state that eternity will be enjoyed
in such excellent association. For is it not an earnest of God's favor to the anti-slavery cause that he calls into labor and sacrifice gifts so sound, talent so exalted, intellects so cultivated, piety so Christ like?"
Reverting back to earlier scenes. When the Liberty Party National Convention was in session, which nominated James Birney, of Buffalo, for the Presidency, in 1843, Ward was one of the leaders in that convention. Editor Torrey of the Albany Weekly "Patriot," himself an early martyr to the slave's cause, gives the following description of Ward in action:
"And here comes Ward--Samuel R. Ward--the young (he is only 26) reasoning political giant. My calm judgment is that he possesses the most commanding intellect among the people of color in the United States. Few men of any color or clime can compare with him. He is now vindicating the supremacy of the law of God over all human laws, with the clearness of allusion and figure that mark the great educated intellect. Yet he speaks now on the spur of the moment, on a resolve he never saw or heard till an hour since. His voice is very powerful--its clear ringing sounds fills the great tent, holds the audience rapt and echoes around the squares. The resolve which was offered by Rev. John Pierpont, grandfather of J. Pierpont Morgan, was against the moral right of others to aid in returning escaped slaves to their claimants. In fact, this is the same black orator whose mere presence at the Free Soil Convention almost drove the barnburners, the originators of the Free Soil Convention crazy; and yet whose eloquence during its sessions so electrified the crowd that they broke down the platform in crowding around to hear him."
There were two wings of the "Abolitionists," the Garrisonians
and the Smithsonians, the voters and the non-voters; Garrison was the natural leader of one wing that believed that the Constitution was for Slavery. Frederick Douglass was attached to this wing. The Smithsonians, headed by Gerritt Smith, believed that the Constitution, rightly interpreted, was against Slavery. With this wing Samuel R. Ward was identified. A memorable debate took place between Douglass and Ward with respect to this matter. Ward submitted the challenge through his paper, 'The Impartial Citizen,' which was 'to take place at any county seat in the State of New York at such time as you may name.' The debate took place in Minerva Hall, New York City, on Friday, May 18, 1849. It was a never-to-be-forgotten occasion. All of the leading citizens, white and colored, were present, and while it began in the afternoon, it lasted well on to mid-night. Just a few sentences of the dialogue between these two great giants, both born on the soil of Maryland, will give a faint idea of this memorable occasion:
" 'Mr. Ward: My view is that the Constitution does not require the federal government to do aught for slavery. There has been more legislation for slavery than for all other interests; agriculture, education, everything else. If the Constitution did not make every man's house his 'castle,' I would say, 'Make a bonfire of the Constitution.' The substitute tells you the Constitution ought to be submitted to legal rules of interpretation, and when so subjected is found to be against slavery. We take the Constitution in its plain, common-sense, obvious meaning. Now almost the words of the Declaration are enacted in the Constitution--to be found in the fifth amendment. 'Truth' in the Declaration and 'Good' in the Constitution are one. As to the law of 1793, the very terms of the Constitution
are hostile to the idea of slavery. No 'service or labor' can be 'due' from a slave. The plain language of the Constitution is against slavery. Wheaton III, page 5, in a decision of the supreme court, tells you that the meaning of the Constitution is to be found in its letter.'
"Mr. Ward referred to Judge Harrington of Vermont, who told the claimant of a slave that he must bring a bill of sale from Almighty God before he could substantiate his title. Ward, continuing:
" 'Our friends say, take the broad and open ground to the dissolution of the Union. Then they will respect you. Well, may be it will do good. But I have not heard that our friends have yet had much effect upon the South; that they have frightened the chivalry very much. We are asked what should be done while we are securing a proper interpretation of the Constitution? But I ask them how they will dissolve the Union? And I wait their pleasure for a reply. They infer that the Constitution is so and so--is so pro-slavery--because Washington and other slaveholders made it. The only question is, What sort of a Constitution did they frame? What does it say? What are its terms? Not a word has been brought forward here to show that the Constitution authorizes the recovery of fugitives. It is all about the character of those who made the Constitution.'
"Mr. Douglass wished to know if the executive council called the society together, and a large majority abandoned their principles if it was not the society who abandoned principles
"Mr. Ward: No, sir. Those who remain true to principle are the society, be they few or be they many. It is principle, not numbers or the action of numbers, which is the test.
"Mr. Douglass: But you have added on 19 principles.
"Mr. Ward: And so have I added on 19 pounds of flesh since I was sick; but I am Sam Ward still. Our position is, Are you true to the slave? That is our test. Judge Jay going for Whigs does not compromise us."
One of the most exciting meetings held by the antislavery cause was in the Broadway Tabernacle, Broadway and Worth Street, New York, in 1850. A number of rioters, under the leadership of one Isaiah Rynders, a political healer of Tammany, had assembled and interferred with the progress of the meeting. A Dr. Grant, a member of that band had gotten the floor and had delivered a speech denying the humanity of the Negro. Douglass followed him, and in closing, called Ward to the platform. As Ward approached, Rynders himself, standing near, said:
"Well this is the original nigger," while others of his rowdies groaned and jeered. But Ward was soon master of the situation. Very soon the utmost silence and attention prevailed. He said:
"My friends, hear me for my cause and be silent that you may hear me. I, too, have read medicine, and studied dead men's bones, as well as Dr. Grant. I have often heard of the magnanimity of Captain Rynders but the half has never been told me. I agree with Frederick Douglass; it makes no odds if the chin protrudes or the forehead retires. I don't come here to find fault with Capt. Rynders, but he is a Democrat, a friend of Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and says that every man is born free and equal and has the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All I ask of Americans is that they should stick to that, to their own doctrine. As to the learned theory that we have heard, I think Dr.
Grant once discussed his doctrine with one John Smith. I made up my opinion at the time about both speakers. Euclid was a black man, had the eliptical head, the protruding jaw, and if he was not a man, then there are no men, white or black. I might quote Mr. Alexander Everett, who says we derived our knowledge from the Romans, they from the Greeks, they from the Jews, and, lastly they from the Egyptians. Now, the Egyptians were blacks. Herodotus, the father of history, says so, and he could not lie. He knew black from white.
"I am but a poor specimen of a Negro; there are more than fifty people here who may remember me as a little boy running about the streets of New York fifteen years ago. I have often been called a nigger, and some have tried to make me believe it; and the only consolation that has been offered me for being called nigger was that when I die and go to heaven, I shall be white. But, if I can not go to heaven as black as God made me, let me go down to hell and dwell with the Devil forever. The gentleman who denies our humanity has examined us scientifically; but I know something of anatomy. I kept school in New York and New Jersey and had among my scholars from the unmitigated jet black down to the nicest dissolving hue; and I have found white men as niggerish as black men; and have seen white boys with retreating foreheads and projecting jaws, heads that if you knocked here (tapping his own forehead) all day--as a writer says--you would find nobody at home.
"One word about natural instincts, because the 'Herald' speaks of spirits black, white and gray, as if he saw them. I never pretended to see or speak of them if they are contrary to instinct; but have you a Bible here? In Acts xiii: 1, you will find whites and blacks in close propinquity.
There was a number of prophets in the church at Antioch, and one of them was Simeon, who was called Niger--that is the Latin word for a black man. If that which they have told us is instinct, be instinct, tell me why such an instinct is only known in America? It is an instinct of American origin, a Yankee invention; something like primeval hams, and wooden nutmegs. I am going to speak this evening to colored people on their rights and duties; and if they don't behave better than some white men, why it will be time for me to give up my argument."
An eminent and prominent witness observes, with respect to this most eloquent and cutting effort of Ward, "he went on with a noble voice; his speech was such a strain of unpremeditated eloquence as I never heard excelled before or since. His every look and gesture was eloquence."
In after years, in making a comparison, Frederick Douglass says of Samuel Ringgold Ward: "I have known but one other black man to be compared with (Robert Brown) Elliott, and that was Samuel R. Ward, who like Elliott, died in the midst of his years."
The late Rev. Dr. Crummell, in his eulogy of his friend, Dr. Garnett, also mentions the name of Ward in making a comparison. He says:
"Foremost among these were four men who have attained celebrity, and whose names can not die in the remembrance of the black race in this country, nor in the annals of the republic. There was the fiery and impulsive Remond, as true and gallant a knight as ever, with unsheathed sword, rushed into the thickest of a battle fray, and did right noble service. There was our celebrated neighbor, then a youthful recruit, but now 'the old man eloquent,' of Anacostia, who some of our young graduates
seem to think a mere bagatelle, but of whom a scholar and divine of my own Church, told me the other day that he was the only man in America who reminded him, in his eloquence, of the great Prime Minister of England, William Ewart Gladstone. There was Samuel R. Ward, that mighty master of speech, that giant of intellect, called in his day, 'the ablest thinker on his legs,' whom Charles T. Torry declared was only second in his day to Daniel Webster in logical power. And last, but by no means least, was Henry Highland Garnett. More restrained and less fiery and monotonous than Remond; not so ponderous as Douglass; inferior in cast-iron logic to Ward; there was a salience, a variety, an intellectual incidity, and above all a brilliancy and glowing fire in our friend's eloquence which gave him his special and peculiar place. He united the sparkling keenness of Tristam Burgess to the glow and exuberance of Henry Clay."
Harrison Holmes Webb, an adopted son of Maryland, born in Pennsylvania, is worthy of special mention in connection with the "Men of Maryland." He seems to have made his advent into Maryland, either late in the thirties, or early in the forties. He was a man of education, and in the diligent use of what he had, attained a distinguished standing among the men of his day. In 1843, he was confirmed in St. James First African Church, and soon thereafter, licensed as a Lay Reader. He became a lay assistant to the Rev. Mr. McJilton (white), rector of the Church and teacher of the day school. In 1846, with others, he took the chief part in founding St. James Male Beneficial Society. Many of the older Marylanders, still alive, received their education in his school. In 1854, he was ordained by Bishop Whittingham to the ministry of the Episcopal Church. A few years later, he was advanced to the Priesthood in the same church, and, upon the retirement of the rector, the Rev. Mr. Webb, was elected his successor. Mr. Webb continued his school as well as the rectorship of St. James' Church, until 1872, when, on account of increasing infirmities he resigned. For a number of years, following the close of the Civil War, he was one of the executive officers of the local Freedman's Bank.
A few years before his resignation of the rectorship of St. James' Church, some forty of the younger people connected with that congregation, withdrew and organized a
mission, in the newer section of the city, known as St. Philip's. This Mission finally became the nucleus of the present Mt. Calvary Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. Living in the section of the city where the Mission was located, he often attended, and, sometimes, officiated. Mrs. Webb, the wife of the Rev. Mr. Webb, was greatly beloved by a member of a white family with whom she had lived. And because of this influence the mission through the generosity of Mrs. Webb's former mistress, became possessed with the money to erect its beautiful church on Orchard Street. The memory of this sweet influence is perpetuated in the interior of the beautiful chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. The three marble steps leading up to the Altar, are inscribed to the glory of God, and in memory of Rebecca Webb; while, one of the two imposing granite columns, supporting the Sanctuary arch, is likewise inscribed, to the glory of God, and in memory of Harrison H. Webb, Priest.
Writing of his decease, Bishop Whittingham said:
"Deprived of advantages of a liberal education in his youth, he had laboriously qualified himself in riper years, for admission to the holy ministry, which he received and exercised, with the exception of a few months service in Pennsylvania, for more than twenty years in St. James' African Church in this city. He was never at any period of his ministry independent of his own labor in a secular calling for support, but faithfully and patiently strove, in spite of many difficulties and hindrances, to fulfill his ministry in which to the very last he took supreme delight. This testimony I deem to be justly due to one whose name ought to be honored as that of a steadfast servant of our Blessed Master for the work sake only."
He departed this life, in Baltimore, on the 12th of December, 1878.
In Bishop Handy's "Scraps of African Methodist History," mention is made of Dr. Lewis G. Wells. He was born in the city of Baltimore, and it is said that he studied medicine at one of the Medical colleges of this city. In all probability, such studies were carried on while serving in some capacity as an employee of the institution. It is also maintained that he was one of the most skillful physicians of his day. Bishop Handy says: "During the rage of the cholera in 1832, he could be seen riding up one street and down another, administering to the sick and dying. He had a presentiment that he would die with that disease, and sure enough he was overtaken by it, and finally died. No man was more respected than Dr. Wells; as an evidence of it, in nearly all of the older families, his picture may be seen hanging against the walls, with here and there a photograph of a son bearing the name of this eminent man--Dr. Lewis G. Wells."
The race has had much advice. We are loth to add to the same. And, yet, we dare assert that the solution of the so-called race problem is not conditioned upon any one thing, but rather upon the wise use of all the elements of strength which have energised the advance and prosperity of all other races and peoples. As a word of encouragement, we give two extracts, one each, from the writings of two of the purest and ablest men this race of ours has yet produced.
The learned late Rev. Dr. Alexander Crummell, in writing of the "Destined Superiority of the Negro," uses these stimulating and most helpful words:
"You need not entertain the shadow of a doubt that the work which God hath begun and is now carrying on, is for the elevation and success of the Negro. This is the significance and the worth of all effort and all achievement, of every signal providence, in this cause; or, otherwise all the labors of men and all the mightiness of God is vanity. Nothing, believe me, on earth; nothing brought from perdition, can keep back this destined advance of the Negro race. No conspiracies of men nor of devils. The slave trade could not crush them out. Slavery, dread, direful, and milignant, could only stay it for a time. But now it is coming, coming, I grant through dark and trying events, but surely coming.
The Negro--black, curly headed, despised, repulsed, sneered at--is nevertheless a vital being, and irrepressible. Every where on earth has been given him, by the Almighty, assurance, self-assertion, and influence. The rise of two Negro States within a century, feeble though they be, has a bearing upon this subject. The numerous emancipations, which now leave not more than a chain or two to be unfastened, have, likewise, a deep moral significance. Thus, too, the rise in the world of illustrious Negroes as Tousant L'Ouverture, Henry Christophe, Benjamin Banneker, Eustace, the Philanthropist, Stephen Allan Benson, and Bishop Crowther.
"With all these providential indications in our favor, let us bless God and take courage. Casting aside every thing trifling and frivilous, let us lay hold of every element of power, in the brain; in literature, in art, and science; in industrial pursuits; in the soil; in co-operative association; in mechanical ingenuity; and above all, in the religion of our God; and so march on in the path of progress to that superiority and eminence which is our rightful heritage, and which is evidently the promise of our God."
A fit companion with Dr. Crummell, is the great scholar and giant in character, the late Bishop Daniel A. Payne, founder of Wilberforce University, in Ohio, and Historian of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Paraphrasing the words "African Methodist Episcopal Church," in the closing page of his history of that Church, we reproduce the same, as follows:
"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him: I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
"We can not do better than to echo this command, and say to all and every man, woman and child of the race, as
individual elements in it, and to the aggregated whole: The Almighty God, is thy God, who has led thee on from one degree of strength to another until thou hast attained a little productive power. Do not be proud of it, for pride does not become mortal man. Do not boast of it, for boasting is the breath of pride. Remember that God looks at the proud afar off. Rather be modest, be humble, be grateful, be obedient, be loving, be faithful, and He, the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will raise thee to a higher plane of strength, of power, of usefulness, and consequent greatness. Listen to Him as Abraham listened, when He says unto thee, 'Colored People, I am the Almighty God, walk before me, and be thou perfect.' Be thou perfect in every one of thy members, be thou perfect in every one of thy departments, 'and I will make thee to multiply exceedingly;' 'and I will make thee exceedingly fruitful;' 'and I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.' Listen, Colored People, O listen, and when thou hearest, obey the command of the Lord God Almighty, when He says: 'Walk before me, and be thou perfect.' 'I have formed thee, and I have led two generations of thine; I can, I will, I shall, lead a thousand generations further and higher than I have led thee and thine. Only walk before me, as Abram did, and with me as Enoch did.' 'Fear not, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.' 'Walk before me, and be thou perfect.'"
ARCHDIOCESE OF BALTIMORE
408 North Charles Street
March 9, 1904. Rev. George F. Bragg, D. D.,
Rector of St. James P. E. Church,
In reply to your letter of yesterday, I hasten to say that the introduction of the "Jim-Crow" bill into the Maryland Legislature is very distressing to me. Such a measure must of necessity engender very bitter feelings in the Colored People against the Whites. Peace and harmony can never exist where there is unjust discrimination, and what the members of every community must constantly strive for is peace. Especially now, in the hour of our affliction. While calamity and disaster are frowning upon our city, mutual helpfulness should be the common endeavor and no action should be lightly taken which would precipitate enmities, strife and acrimonious feelings. The duty of every man is to lighten the burdens that weigh heavily upon his neighbor to the full extent of his power. It is equally the duty of every member of a community to avoid any action which is calculated to make hard and bitter the lot of a less fortunate race.
Furthermore, it would be most injudicious to make the whole race suffer for the delinquencies of a few individuals, to visit upon thousands who are innocent, that punishment and chastisement which should be meted out to the guilty alone.
JAMES CARD. GIBBONS.
Baltimore, February 29, 1904.
Rev. George F. Bragg, Jr.,
1133 Park Avenue, City.
My Dear Sir:--
As I explained to you, I shall be prevented by imperative engagements from addressing the meeting to-morrow evening. I am happy to comply with your suggestion that I give in a letter my views as to the proposed amendments to the Constitution of this State, and as to a proper and judicious course for our colored citizens in resisting these measures.
I must own that I heard with anxiety of the intended meeting, for although a temperate and manly protest on your part against this legislation is eminently suitable, excited or ill considered language might readily inflame the prejudices on which its advocates rely to secure its adoption by the General Assembly and ratification by popular vote. On this question you must appeal in last resort to the justice, patriotism, and sound sense of your white fellow citizens; irritating language or injudicious behavior must weaken the force of your appeal.
I have hoped that the great calamity which has overtaken our city, and the consequent necessity for a hearty co-operation on the part of all classes of the population and men of all parties and opinions, in repairing its losses, might induce our Legislature to abandon, or at least adjourn, projects designed to gain mere partisan advantage and certain to revive political animosities. A time when Maryland seeks most of all to attract capital from her progressive and prosperous sister States of the North, to raise from its ashes the business section of her principal City, seems ill-suited for legislation animated by such a spirit and designed for such ends.
If, however, this hope be disappointed, I think we may still await, with some confidence the verdict of the people on the measures in 1905. For such confidence I find two weighty reasons. In the first place, I believe that Maryland is essentially a genuine American commonwealth. When Voltaire said: "He who serves his country well needs no grandfathers," he put in words the underlying principle of our American institutions. True Americans do not ask what sort of a grandfather a man had, but what sort of a man he is himself; and a proposition to make a man's right to vote depend on whether his grandfather voted is almost
the last which I should expect a truly American community to approve at the polls.
Moreover, I believe the people of Maryland to be a loyal community, recognizing its duties as one of the States of this great Union to faithfully obey in letter and spirit the Federal Constitution. Every member of our General Assembly has promised under oath to "support the Constitution of the United States." I do not think our people will deliberately hold that promise to have been kept as an honorable and conscientious man should keep it, by one who has been racking his brain to devise some plan whereby the Constitution of the United States may be disobeyed with impunity. It must be remembered that the question involved in the adoption or the rejection of the proposed amendments is, not whether the suffrage should be restricted, but whether it should be restricted impartially. If it pleases the people to exclude from the elective franchise criminals or paupers or illiterates, no one questions the right to do this; at most, it is a question of expediency. But whatever the restrictions imposed, they should be the same for all citizens; there should not be one law for white men, and another law for black men, one law for Americans of two generations and another law for Americans of three.
There is one consideration in connection with this important matter to which I would direct the special attention of all colored men. The proposed amendments can not become a part of our State Constitution until after the general election in November, 1905, and their provisions will not become practically effective as limiting the suffrage before, at the earliest, May, 1906. The colored citizens of Maryland have therefore more than two years in which to fit themselves for the tests which these amendments impose.
Within two years it ought to be possible for many--I will not say for all--of those who might now be excluded by such tests from the elective franchise to become qualified to exercise it. Night schools should be provided in most parts of the State for illiterates willing to make the sacrifice of time and labor needed to retain their political rights; and it were well if every citizen of the State should acquaint himself with the provisions of our State Constitution. I doubt whether one in one thousand of the white inhabitants of Maryland has ever read its Constitution. If colored men devote the next two years to its study they may perhaps help their white neighbors to give "a reasonable interpretation" of its provisions to the Officers of Registration.
I remain, my dear Sir,
Yours very respectfully and truly,
CHARLES J. BONAPARTE.
"Whereas the Most High God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth," and hath commanded them to love their neighbors as themselves; and whereas, our National Existence is based upon this principle, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence, "that all mankind are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and whereas, after the lapse of nearly sixty years, since the faith and honor of the American people were pledged to this avowal before Almighty God and the world, nearly one-sixth part of the nation are held in bondage by their fellow-citizens; and whereas slavery is contrary to the principles of natural justice, of our republican form of government, and of the Christian Religion, and is destructive to the prosperity of the country, while it is endangering the peace, union, and liberties of the states; and whereas, we believe it the duty and interest of the masters immediately to emancipate their slaves, and that no scheme of expatriation, either voluntary or by compulsion, can remove this great and increasing evil; and whereas, we believe that it is practicable, by appeals to the consciences, hearts, and interests of the people, to awaken a public sentiment throughout the nation, that will be opposed to the continuance of slavery in any part of the Republic, and by effecting the speedy abolition of slavery, prevent a general convulsion; and whereas, we believe we owe it to the oppressed, to our fellow-citizens who hold slaves, to our whole country, to posterity and to God, to do all that is lawfully in our power to bring about the extinction of slavery, we do hereby agree, with a prayerful reliance on the divine aid, to form ourselves into a society, to be governed by the following constitution:
ARTICLE I.--This Society shall be called the American Anti-Slavery Society.
ARTICLE II.--The objects of this Society are the entire abolition of Slavery in the United States. While it admits that each State, in which Slavery exists, has, by the Constitution of the United States, the exclusive right to legislate in regards to its abolition in said State, it shall aim to convince all our fellow-citizens, by arguments addressed to their understandings, and consciences, that slave-holding is a heinous crime in the sight of God, and that the duty, safety, and best interests of all concerned, require its immediate abandonment without expatriation. The Society will also endeavor, in a constitutional way, to influence
Congress to put an end to domestic slave trade, and to abolish Slavery in all those portions of our common country which come under its control, especially in the District of Columbia--and likewise to prevent the extension of it to any State that may be hereafter admitted to the Union.
ARTICLE III.--This Society shall strive to elevate the character and condition of the people of color, by encouraging their intellectual, moral, and religious improvement, and removing public prejudice, that thus they may, according to their intellectual and moral worth, share an equality with the whites, of civil and religious privileges; but this Society will never, in any way, countenance the oppressed in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical force.
ARTICLE IV.--Any person who consents to the principles of this constitution, who contributes to the funds of this Society, and is not a Slave-holder, may be a member of this Society, and shall be entitled to vote at the meetings.
(The remaining six articles are purely formal.)
"MEN OF MARYLAND," One Dollar per copy.
Address the Author
1133 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland.