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Collections >> Titles by John S. Jacobs >> John S. Jacobs' report on his public speaking experiences, The North Star April 20, 1849

An Anti-slavery Tour.

FROM The North Star, 20 April 1849.

FREDERIC DOUGLASS:—I feel it due to those laboring in other departments of the antislavery cause to report my experiences as a lecturer. I left Rochester Sunday March 18th. Monday the 19th, I spoke at the Universalist Church in Clarendon, to a small but attentive audience. Tuesday the 20th, I went to Southbarr, at evening I attended a religious meeting held in the School House, where I conversed with Mr. Gaston the Presbyterian Minister, who told me there was a revival of religion in progress at the Centre, and for himself he was opposed to the introduction of the subject of Slavery, Peace, Temperance, or anything calculated to draw off their minds from the importance of getting religion. I told him should they have it seasoned with a little humanity it would do them no harm; he admitted it would do them no harm, but still refused to give me a hearing.

I then said to him, Mr. Gaston suppose some one should pass through this town, and steal and carry off two or three children, and their mothers with aching hearts and streaming eyes should send their petition to your church asking the prayers of the righteous which avail much, in behalf of the restoration of their children to their fond arms, would you treat their petition as you have treated the cause of the slaves? He then declared that he would object to the offering a prayer at those meetings, for the deliverance of three millions of his countrymen from chains and slavery.

There was a Mr. O. T. Burns present, who agreed with Mr. Gaston. Mr. Burns said he had lived in Kentucky, and knew that we said some hard things of slaveholders that they did not deserve; he said they were kind and hospitable. What he meant was this—they stole pigs and ducks from their slaves, and stuffed him with them! Here I am at a loss, I do not know which is the most valueless Mr. Burns' idea of hospitality or Mr. Gaston's religion; the one will admit of robbing the poor to feed the rich—the other of heathenizing, and stealing men, women, and children for the glory of God, and good of souls.

Wednesday the 21st, I went to Pinebill, and from there to Oakfield. Here, too, they were holding protracted meetings. The cause of bleeding humanity finds but few friends at protracted meetings and revivals of religion. They are all so busy in trying to save that invisible and undefined part of man called the soul, that they will see his body, the image of God, trampled in the dust unheeded.

Thursday the 22nd, I returned to Southbar and made arrangements for a meeting to be held at the School House, on Friday Evening the 23rd, which was well attended. Saturday the 24th, I went to Albion, the friends (if there be any of them, and I sought dilligently [sic] for them) had made no arrangements for a meeting. The Court House, the only public building that is not barred against the cause of the oppressed, had been newly painted. A deacon of the Presbyterian church tried to get the vestry of the Methodist church, but Mr. Mehay the minister objected to my having it. The deacon told me I would find friends and an antislavery church at Eagle Harbour. That is more than the deacon can say of his church, or that I can say of the people of Albion.

Sunday the 25th, in the absence of the Wesleyan minister of Eagle Harbor, I spoke to a few friends of the cause that had assembled for morning worship. The streets were so muddy that the people could only get to the Meeting House in wagons.

Monday the 26th, I went to West Gains, but finding no arrangements had been made for a meeting, I did not attempt to get up one, judging from the appearance of things it would be labor lost.

Tuesday and Wednesday, the 27th and 28th, I lectured at Johnson's Creek. My first lecture was in the School house. After much entreaty, and fifty cents in cash, which was afterwards made up to me. I got them to allow me the privilege of opening the doors of their church, and making a fire for them, that they might sit there comfortably, while I spoke for the dumb. How long people will content themselves to sit in a little school house to hear such lectures is for them to say. The idea of a church being dedicated to God, that bars its doors against humanity, is absurd. 'God is not mocked, and is not this the fast that I have chosen to loose the bands of wickedness, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?'

Thursday and Friday, the 29th and 30th, I lectured in Lockport; the meeting was slimly attended, though I do not regret having gone there. At Dr. T's house I saw an old man fifty-one years of age, who had just made his escape from the prison-house of American slavery. There were many things connected with his case that refreshed my mind, making me feel more thankful for my own freedom, and more anxious for others.

Saturday the 31st, I lectured in the Universalist church at Ridgway Corners. After the meeting I made an appointment for Sunday afternoon, and then went to Lindonville to make arrangements for one or more meetings there, but I could not find a man in the village to lend a helping hand. I left these, who had told me I could not get the people to come out) [sic] and went to the Presbyterian church and saw the trustees, who told me I could have the church for two evenings. I carried my notices to the churches, for Sunday and Monday evenings, then left for the Corners, to my afternoon appointment; the meeting was well attended. I returned to Lindonville, and to the astonishment of those inactive abolitionists whose doctrine is "they are joined to idols let them alone," I had a full house; after the lecture, I invited the little children that had heard me to come again and bring their little friends. I lent them some little books to take home with them. Monday the 2nd, this evening must have been one of deep interest to all present. I had acted somewhat imprudently, in walking six or eight miles to get up a meeting forthe [sic] next day, and returned quite fatigued and feverish, brought on by abstinence and disease. I entered the house at a very early hour; those little girls were there singing an antislavery song. The change was so great I soon felt like another man, knowing I was among friends, though they were small ones, I got them to open the meeting with an antislavery song, their choice was "I am an abolitionist, I glory in the name," &c,, their fathers and mothers must have felt the force of those words as they fell from the lips of their children. I told those little girls how little slaves were treated, I was heard with apparent interest.

Tuesday, April 3rd, I had a meeting in the vestry of the Methodist church, in Medina. Old Zack has got many friends there; deacon Cook, and brother Snell made quite a speech in his defence, he was afraid I should injure the cause by calling them theives [sic] and robbers and Taylor whigs pro-slavery; I hope the time is not far distant, when pick-pockhets [sic] will shun such men.

Thursday the 5th, I went to Gaines, West Gaines, and Albion, but could not get up a meeting in either place. Saturday the 7th, I lectured at the Wesleyan chapel, Eagle Harbor, the audience was quite disorderly, being in part made up of some boatmen, whose highest idea of manliness seemed to be disturbance. Sunday the 8th, I lectured at the Baptist church in Holley to a large audience. Here the arrangements had been made by our friend Morgan, and the Presbyterian minister kindly waived his evening meeting, that I might have a full house; the meeting went off well.

At no time during my laboring in the cause as a lecturer, have I found so few friends, as on the present occasion. In some of these towns, it has been more than a year since the slaves of this land have had any one to tell of their wrongs.

Your fellow laborer in the cause of humanity,


Titles by John S. Jacobs