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Resource Date: 1844

Number: 14

Record Office: St John's College Library, Cambridge

Record Office Location Number: Folder 4 Doc 86


Letter from Lewis Tappan, New York to TC, 29 Feb 1844.

Notes: A reply to Clarkson's inquiry regarding evidence on the advance of the Anti-slavery movement in America. It shows Clarkson's continuing involvement in the campaign and the high standing he has amongst black people there.

Letter from Lewis Tappan Feb 1844 (regarding progress of the anti-slavery movement in America)

New York, February 29th 1844 Thomas Clarkson, Esq. My dear Friend, In my letter, dated yesterday, I gave you facts, under 12 heads, as an answer, in part, to your inquiry, with reference to the Anti-Slavery cause in this country. "What real symptoms have you of its advancement?" I proceed now to enumerate a few more. 13. Two new newspapers have been recently established by the people of colour. They are edited by coloured men. One is entitled the "Elevator". It is published at Philadelphia, and intelligent coloured men in that city contribute to its pages. The other is entitled the "Clarksonian". It is published at Hartford, Conn. & the editor is the Rev. J.W.C. Pennington, whom you know. 6.I might have mentioned under this head the fact that a young coloured minister of the gospel, Rev. Henry H. Garnett, of Troy, New York, has recently been elected a Life Member of the "Young Men's Association" in that city. It is one of the oldest and most effective Literary Societies in the country. Mr Garnett was elected by a unanimous vote. He is a very black man, was once a slave, and has won the honor by his eloquence and moral worth. 14.A Unitarian minister of this city, Dr Davey, having lately in a public literary lecture, said many disparaging things of the free People of Colour, Dr Smith, a young coloured physician, replied to him in the columns of one of our best daily papers, in a series of essays, and in the estimation of many persons, won, not only the argument, but great credit to himself & his people by the literary skill evinced in his and their defence. 15.Many distinguished persons, in various parts of the Free States, who have not hitherto identified themselves with the abolitionists are joining them & publicly advocating the cause. Among them I would mention Elihu Bevoutt, of Massachusetts, a man who is said to be versed in 50 languages, and who is both an able and popular lecturer. He has lately established a newspaper, and boldly advocates the cause of the oppressed. I would mention also that the Hon. W.H. Seward, late governor of this State, has volunteered to defend a poor man in Ohio before the Sup. Court of the U.S. charged with affording aid to fugitive slaves. 16.My business leads me to keep up an extensive correspondence throughout the free States & Territories, and especially with eminent lawyers, and the sentiments they frequently express on the subject of slavery, in an incidental way, satisfies me that anti-slavery principles are rapidly pervading the country. 17.Several missionaries, of different denominations, who are in remote countries and have been under the control of American Missionary Boards, have disconnected themselves with these Boards, because they solicited funds from slaveholders, and fellowshipped them as Christians, and we have reason to believe that a large number of missionaries will disconnect themselves from these Associations if they do not speedily take action, as the phrase is here, against Slavery. 18.The progress of the Liberty Party (composed of abolitionists and those who have left the Democratic and Whig parties because of their pro-slavery character) affords a reasonable prospect that at no distant day the friends of human rights will exercise a powerful influence in Congress. Their votes have increased as follows - In 1840 there were 6865; in 1841 there were 20,636, in 1842 there were 34,716; and in 1843 there were 52,534. 19.Anti-slavery questions have been discussed this winter in Lyceums and before other associations, in the hearing of citizens who have been accustomed to read or hear discussions of such Topics; and abolitionists have often been invited to lecture or debate upon subjects connected with Slavery. 20.The mail from Washington last night brings the cheering intelligence that the gag rule referred to under the 1st head, yesterday, has virtually been abrogated in Congress, and by a vote 105 to 85. For years petitions for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia, where, as you know, Congress has exclusive jurisdiction, have not been received, or if received immediately been laid upon the table. It was proposed this session by the slave-holding members, and those from the North in alliance with them, that the rule should be continued. Opposition was unexpectedly made to this proposition by Northern members who had been accustomed to vote with the South. At length the Slave-holding members proposed a modification, allowing the petitions to be received, but directing that they should be forthwith laid upon the table without debate. This proposition was negatived by a decisive vote of 143 to 35. So this measure was not responded to by the Democrats of the North or the Whigs of the South. The last vote, as above mentioned, was for the adoption of a set of rules which excluded the prohibitory rule. The matter is not finally disposed of yet, but one of the leading pro-slavery papers says, "the probability is that no rule excluding abolition petitions will be adopted in the new code" - referring to the rules of the House. 21.I have information that consultations have been recently held in the little State of Delaware, where there are between 2 and 3000 slaves, that have resulted in a meeting of persons opposed to the continuance of slavery. It is thought that the time is very near when the system will be abolished in that State. Several respectable persons, residing there, have, as I am informed, offered to circulate anti-Slavery publications. 22.There has been a report by a Can. in Congress in favour of free persons of colour revising the law that requires a coloured man to prove that he is a free man, & requiring a claimant to prove that he is a slave. 23.Without adding to the number of facts showing a rapid progress of public opinion in favour of abolition throughout the Free States, and remarkable changes in the Slave States, I may say that we feel greatly encouraged. It is true that many facts of a discouraging nature might be mentioned - the most striking of which is the advance in the price of slaves owing to the increased price of cotton & the consequent traffic in human flesh - but I will not trouble you with them. My object is to cheer you, so far as I can with a presentation of facts, in the decline of life, and to give to you and to all the revered friends of the anti-slavery cause in England, Scotland & Ireland the assurance that slavery and the domestic slave trade will not long continue in this country. The sentiment of the country - North and south - is increasing against the system. Texas can not, we think, find admission into the Union, certainly as a Slave State. Let us then unitedly rejoice and give thanks to God. I hope you will be spared to see more important evidence that slavery in the United States is soon to [illegible due to damaged original], and that the practice of the people here accords with the principles in our Declaration of Independence. There are many in the United States who rejoice that Divine Providence raised you up to devote so much of your life to the furtherance of the righteous cause, and that you have had so many able & faithful coadjutors. In this country we owe you a great debt of gratitude for your writings & other efforts, and for the example your country has given to us and to the world. I pray God to sustain you amidst all your infirmities, and finally, for Christ's sake, to receive you to His heavenly kingdom. With much respect & cordial esteem ever yours, Lewis Tappan
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