In General

Slavery and the Bible

Slavery and the Law

Anti-Slavery Movement

Freedom of Speech and the Question of Slavery

In General

“Slave Insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:9 (Oct. 15, 1831): 1. Commenting on an article by the same title in the Courier and Enquirer, the editor explains, “we believe it our duty to take the part of the oppressed, against the oppressor, whatever may be the kindred or country of the oppressor and the oppressed. In relation to the question of slavery our kindred are mankind – our color is the color of freemen. And we will not seek sanction for our sentiments, in “perversions of Holy Writ:” all Nature proclaims their justice.”

“Constitution of the Society for the Promotion of Equal Rights.”  Cleveland Liberalist, 1:47 (Aug. 12, 1837): 371-72. Published by request of William Thompson, the Constitution describes slavery as “an evil of the first magnitude [which] ought to cease wherever it exists.” The following page features a letter from Thompson, reprinted from the Ohio City Argus detailing his views on the subject of abolition.

Z. “Untitled Editorial.” The Boston Investigator, 420 (Apr. 10, 1839): 3. Z contends that the Investigator “is second to none in its condemnation of slavery- slavery in its most hideous and degrading form- slavery of the mind; from which, follows slavery of the body, as necessarily as effect springs from cause.” However, Z reiterates his emphatic opposition to political abolitionism which he argues aggravates the evil it pretends to remedy.

Reply of Z. to Mr. Webb’s Article.” The Boston Investigator, 422 (Apr. 24, 1839): 1. Z puts forth his belief that Northern abolitionists have no right under the federal constitution to force Southern states to abolish slavery, expresses his partiality for the Colonizationists, and his certainty that Southern people are “determined to regulate and abolish slavery in their own way and time, independent of northern officiousness, or any dictation whether foreign or domestic.”

Horace Greeley. “What is Slavery?” The Boston Investigator, 738 (July 16, 1845): 4. Reprinted from the Onondaga Standard. Greeley argues for an expansive definition of slavery as that “condition in which one human being exists mainly as a convenience for other human beings- in which the time, the exertions, the faculties of a part of the Human Family are made to subserve, not their own development, physical, intellectual, and moral, but the comfort, advantage or caprices of others.”

Nathaniel P. Rogers. “What is Anti-Slavery?” The Regenerator, 34 (July 21, 1845): 134-35. Reprinted from Rogers’ Herald of Freedom. Murray notes, “Brother Rogers says- “the foundation of the slave system lies deep in the morals and social character of the people of the country.” . . . . I should say, all slavery has its origin in propensity for gain and power, where all government originates.”

Matthew Farrington. “The United States.” The Boston Investigator, 864, 868, 876, 878, 886, 888, 892 (Dec. 15, 1847; Jan. 12, Mar. 8, Apr. 5, May 17, 31, June 28, 1848). Farrington calls upon “all who have the welfare of humanity at heart . . . to raise their voices against the cursed system of American slavery, and the blood-stained government that sanctions and sustains it.” In subsequent essays, Farrington condemns the “offensive war” against Mexico for the purpose of annexing Texas and re-establishing slavery there. Finally, Farrington asks “But what shall be done? I answer,- let the free States immediately separate from the Slave States, and form a distinct and independent nation; unless the South will immediately abolish slavery.”

“A Letter on Slavery, &c.” The Boston Investigator, 984 (Apr. 3, 1850): 2. Featured is a pro-slavery letter written by L.J. McCormick of Carlowville, Alabama, followed by a detailed rebuttal from the Investigator’s editors. The editors conclude, “we are opposed to slavery:- Because it is unnecessary. Because it produces immorality, in outraging social laws. Because it produces aristocracy, in outraging political injustice. Because it produces tyranny, in outraging civil laws. Because it produces degradation to labor. Because it ultimately destroys a nation. Because it is opposed to free institutions.”

In a letter to the editor, N. H. Whiting points out that Murray argued in his last number of the Review that “the worst of all slavery is that in which Christendom is held by the Bible.” In response, Whiting remarked, “The spirit of slavery is the same everywhere. The same when shutting the Bible from the slave on the plantations of Carolina, as when attempting to force the same Bible upon us . . . . Either of these forms of slavery falls with crushing weight upon poor trampled and benighted humanity. Let us war upon these and upon all other forms of oppression and debasement.”  Murray’s Review, 186 (July 1855): 150.

“Free Convention at Rutland, Vt.” The Boston Investigator, 1415 (July 7, 1858): 4. This article features the convention’s resolutions, on among other things, land reform, marriage, spiritualism, free trade, and the following resolution on slavery, “that slavery is a wrong which no power in the universe can make right; therefore, any law, constitution, court or government, any church, priesthood, creed or Bible, or any Christ or any God that, by silence or otherwise, authorizes man to enslave man, merits the scorn and contempt of mankind.”

LaRoy Sunderland. “Thoughts on the Times.” The Boston Investigator, 1582 (Sept. 18, 1861): 171. Sunderland argues that “Slavery is “total depravity,” and the leaders in this rebellion are hopeless pirates. . . . The hope has prevailed among the masses at the North that some good would yet come from slavery. This has been the mistake of our Government, and this war will be continued until this mistake is corrected.”

LaRoy Sunderland. “Jefferson’s Oath.” The Boston Investigator, 1584 (Oct. 2, 1861): 186. Sunderland notices that “eternal hostility against every species of tyranny over the mind of man” has been the all pervading object of the Investigator, that it could never have been published in any of the slave states, that “slavery depends upon the Bible and tradition very much for its support, and hence slavery always did and always will oppose the Boston Investigator,” and that “the time has come for us one and all to swear eternal hostility against every species of slavery over the mind of man.”

James Phillips. “Thoughts on the Times.” The Boston Investigator, 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 226. Phillips, a subscriber for thirty years, argues that “The institution of slavery, as our wise fathers left it in the hands of the Government of the States where it exists, has proved a blessing to the slave and one of the principal sources of our national prosperity. Has not anti-slavery equally been a curse to the slave by compelling his master to tighten his chains for his own protection, and a curse to his master by stealing his property; a curse to the nation by being the whole cause of the war, and proved what every great and good man from Washington to Douglas has predicted, that when a sectional party got possession of this Government the Union would be dissolved?”

L.R.S.. “The Cause of the War.” The Boston Investigator, 1609 (Mar. 26, 1862): 363. Responding to a correspondent’s suggestion that slavery is not an evil in itself which should be resisted by war, Sunderland concludes “To me, liberty is better than life, and slavery is worse than death. And I hope the time is at hand when no Infidel, or Liberalist . . . . will be found, directly or indirectly, on the side of slavery.”

“Minutes of the Proceedings of the Infidel Convention, held in Chapman Hall, Boston, May 27, 1862.” The Boston Investigator, 1617 (June 4, 1862): 35. J.M. Beckett reported that the association’s branches were “disorganized temporarily, by the absence of a working majority of the male members in the war.” Ernestine Rose proposed the following resolution “That it is the bounden duty of every lover of freedom and justice to discard the irresponsible power which has enslaved the human mind, and to aid in emancipating the slaves wherever found, and whatever color.” One member moved to strike out the last sentence of the resolution referring to color, while a few other members expressed their opposition to Infidels meddling with the slavery question. Nonetheless, Rose’s resolution was adopted without amendment.

Rheubin Hall. “Objections to Mrs. Rose’s Resolution.” The Boston Investigator, 1620 (June 25, 1862): 59. Hall argues that the adoption of Rose’s resolution “sounds the death-knell of Infidel organization.” He then remarks, “Would the overthrow of slavery affect the cause of Infidelity, or cripple that of Christianity? Not in the least. For Christianity can live just as well with slavery abolished, as with slavery existent. But slavery cannot live without Christianity, because its authority is founded alone in the Bible. . . . [D]estroy this “divine authority” and we take from the slavery propagandist his most effectual argument; and compel the slavery question to rest on its own merits- which done, it will be an easy task to bear away the paralyzed form to its silent tomb.”

“Replies to Correspondents.” The Boston Investigator, 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 390. In response to Murray’s three articles under the title “”Truth” and “Earnestness,”” the editor responds, “Not a line did we ever write that by any fair interpretation could be made to favor slavery; and if you intend to intimate any such thing, you are governed more by fanaticism and prejudice than by reason and judgment. We have said, and now say again, that neither in the North nor South has any feasible, practicable plan been brought forward for the settlement of the slavery question; and nothing that you have advanced. . . . has changed in the slightest degree our former and present opinion.”

“Slavery Forever Dead.” The Boston Investigator, 1803 (Jan. 3, 1866): 275. Announcing the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the editor reflects, “The great National Triumph of the present century has been achieved. Chattel Slavery is abolished forever! Thanks to the good sense of the American People by whom the curse has been removed. They have now ratified the doctrine first proclaimed seventy years ago by Thomas Paine that “Man has no property in Man;” and today throughout all our vast borders, the Great Republic is Free.”

Slavery and the Bible

Z. “Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 420 (Apr. 10, 1839): 3. Z notes that “The prevalent idea seems to be, that Slavery originated not many generations ago with our Southern brethren, and has since been continued among them by reason of their looseness or immorality of principles, and their rejection of the doctrines of Christianity. But it should be known and remembered that Slavery itself is a Christian institution, and that this plague-spot and curse of our country originated with Christians, and was inflicted on us by Christians!”

“Religious Instruction of Slaves.” The Boston Investigator, 638 (Aug. 9, 1843): 3. The author concludes that, “beyond all doubt, slavery is a doctrine of the Bible, and as the Christian religion is derived from that book, it necessarily follows that just so long as we reverence the Bible, just so long we must witness in a republican country the strange and painful anomaly of the institution of human slavery.”

Corrector. “Hon. John Quincy Adams’s Speech at Dedham.” The Boston Investigator, 653 (Nov. 22, 1843): 1. The Corrector ridicules Adams’s contention that slavery is contrary to the laws of God.

“The Church in Favor of Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 731 (May 28, 1845): 2. The article reports that the Presbyterian Convention adopted the following: “1. That the institution of slavery, existing in these United States, is not sinful on the part of civil society. 2. That slavery as it exists, in these United States, is not a sinful offence. 3. That civil government is not bound to abolish Slavery in these United States. 4. That it is not agreeable to the Word of God for any person intentionally to induce those held in slavery to rebel against their masters.”

An Infidel. “Religious Consistency of Abolitionists.” The Boston Investigator, 843 (July 21, 1847): 1. The author condemns the cowardly tendency among liberal Christian Abolitionists to “designate all those Christians who approve of slavery, war, &c., as Infidels and Atheists,” and suggests they turn their righteous denunciations towards the rightful culprit- the Bible.

“Which are the Greater Slaves?” The Regenerator, 111 (Aug. 1, 1848): 97-98. Reprinted here is a letter from abolitionists Henry C. Wright and Charles C. Burleigh, in which they deny ever pledging to show that the Bible sanctions slavery and should be discarded. At the same time, Burleigh and Wright contend that if the Bible were shown to sanction slavery it would only prove the Bible to be false rather than slavery right and state their belief that slavery is unjust, inhuman, anti-Christian, and the sum of all villainies. Murray remarks that “this shows at least, in fact, that Bible authority is no great authority with them. That they want better reasons for human conduct than to say it is or is not in accordance with the Bible.”

Henry C. Wright. “The Bible a Self-Evident Falsehood, If Opposed to Self-Evident Truth.” The Regenerator, 116 (Oct. 15, 1848): 178-79. Reprinted from The Liberator. Wright remarks, “Which would be the greater evil – to cast the Bible out of the World – or, to keep slavery in it? To have slavery in it, would be infinitely the greater evil; for man is still a man, without the Bible; but with slavery man is a brute beast. Indeed it would be no loss to the world to have the Bible blotted out of existence, if it sanctions slavery.”

William Lloyd Garrison. “The Bible.” The Regenerator, 120 (Jan. 1, 1849): 241-43. Reprinted from The Liberator; included are the remarks of Orson S. Murray. Garrison concedes that the Bible “must be examined, criticized, accepted or rejected, like any other book, without fear and without favor. Whatever excellence there is in it will be fire proof; and if any portion of it be antiquated or worthless, let that portion be treated accordingly.” In addition, while Garrison expresses his confidence that the Bible does not sanction slavery, he agrees that if it did it would be “a curse to our race.”

Robert Cheyne. “The Ten Commandments and Slavery.” The Regenerator, 135 (Dec. 1849): 98-99. Cheyne argues, “It is vain for abolitionists to try to make out that the Bible does not sanction slavery. . . . They may quote any number of passages, which, in general terms, may be thought to forbid slavery. They may say that Jesus taught to love their neighbors as themselves. So did Moses. But he likewise taught that they might take the heathen round about, and the children of strangers, for a possession, to be bondmen forever; and the Tenth commandment was given to secure the possession of those bondmen.”

“H.C. Wright, Moses Stuart, the Bible, the God of the Bible, and Slavery.” The Regenerator, 143 (Sept. 1850): 232-34. Reprinted from The Liberator is a letter from Wright to Moses Stuart in which Wright proclaims, “In every age and nation, every conceivable outrage upon humanity, upon natural justice and equity, has been perpetrated under the sanction of a supposed arbitrary revelation. The same authority that allowed the Jews to hold slaves, ad libitum, that permitted the master to whip his slave to death, and commit fornication with his bondmaid with impunity, also allows Mohamedans to enslave all other people, the Hindoos to cast their children into the Ganges, the American churches and priests to traffic in slaves and souls of men; i.e., a supposed direct arbitrary revelation. You sir, have powerfully contributed to destroy for ever that veneration for a book which sacrifices man to the book. You have done much to bring men to see that man is above the Bible, and that if the Bible authorizes the enslavement or killing of human beings, thus far it is not to be received and trusted as truth.” Murray remarks follow.

A Southern Man, but not a Slaveholder. “Slaveholding Neither a Wrong nor a Sin.” The Regenerator, 166 (Dec. 1852): 217-19. Reprinted from the New York Herald. Responding to the author’s argument that slavery is fully sustained by the Bible, Murray remarks, “Whoever, therefore, will war successfully against slavery, the first thing he has to do is show that the Bible is of no higher authority than emanations from men living in barbarous times- that much of it is the history of a nation of mercenary conquerors and cruel subjugators – that among its writers, recognized as divine, were the bloodiest of murderers and the grossest of libertines. Yes, whoever will reach the slaveholder or his abettor, must appeal to a “higher law” than that book.”

“John Mitchell, Henry Ward Beecher, The New York Tribune, the Bible and Slavery.” The Regenerator, 176 (Mar. 1854): 376-78. Under this title, appears a biblical defense of slavery from Mitchell, “the Irish Patriot,” a reply from Beecher and critical commentary from Murray. Murray asks, “Why should a man educated from that book listen ever to a word about progress or improvement?- a book beginning with prohibition of knowledge of good and evil [see Genesis II, 17] and ending with penalties against adding to our diminishing from what is in that book, [see Revelations XXII, 18, 19] and filled up plentifully with precedents for slavery and other barbarities fully equal to the gallows and guillotine. The enslavement of Africans to Christians is inhuman enough; but the enslavement of Christians to their Bible and their god involves more of inhumanity, inasmuch as it includes the African slavery and the other abominations for which the book furnishes sanctions and precedents.”

“Slavery Eternal.” Murray’s Review, 178 (Nov. 1854): 22. Reprinted from the Richmond Examiner, the author begins, “It is all a hallucination to suppose that we are ever going to get rid of African slavery, or that it will ever be desirable to do so. It is a thing we cannot do without, that is righteous, profitable and permanent, and that belongs to Southern society, as inherently, intrinsically and durably, as the white race itself.” Murray responds, in part, by pointing out that, “The truth is, those who pretend to justify the enslavement of their fellow beings, do it by authority or permission from their gods. The worshipers of the god Jehovah take the Bible as his word; and in that they find sanction and authority for slavery. With all the intelligence and tendencies to the enlargement of freedom, at the present time, the Bible is the principal thing preventing the abandonment of American slavery.”

“C.C. Burleigh.” Murray’s Review, 188 (Sept. 1855): 182. Murray notes, “It is a wonder to me that such men as Charles C. Burleigh, when they have convinced themselves and others that slavery is in the Constitution, and that therefore the Constitution is in that respect a bad guide, they do not see and show more clearly that slavery is in the Bible, and that the Bible is in the same respect worse than the Constitution by as much as it is more authoritative.

J.C. “Abolition Unfairness.” The Boston Investigator, 1537 (Nov. 7, 1860): 230. The author reports that the following resolution was adopted at an abolition convention in Bradford, Vermont: “Resolved, that those who attempt to defend slavery from the bible- to impose upon community the odious lie that God, in his word, sanctions a sin so heinous- are guilty of one of the worst and most dangerous forms of infidelity exhibited in this age and nation.” The author then points to Leviticus, Chp. 25, verses 44-46, to illustrate how the Bible sanctions slavery and then counsels the Vermont abolitionists to study the Bible and learn to be candid.

T.W.G. “Abolitionism and Infidelity.” The Boston Investigator, 1549 (Jan. 30, 1861): 325. This article features excerpts from a sermon delivered by Rev. H.J. Van Dyke in Brooklyn in which he claims that, “Whenever the seed of Abolitionism has been sown broadcast, a plentiful crop of Infidelity has sprung up. In the communities where anti-slavery excitement has been most prevalent the power of the gospel has invariably declined.”

“New York Paine Celebration.” The Boston Investigator, 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 347. Features a lecture by Ernestine L. Rose where, in reflecting on the role the bible has played in resolving the question of slavery observes, “the Raphalls and the Van Dykes proved slavery a divine institution, the Beechers and the Cheevers proved it from his Satanic Majesty; one side claims the Bible for and the other claims it against slavery, and they are both right. That book is so accommodating that it proves and disproves anything you choose. Chameleon like, it reflects the color of the glass you look through.”

Joseph Treat. “Letter to Parker Pillsbury.” The Boston Investigator, 1671 (June 24, 1863): 50. Treat asserts that “slavery exists in this country only upon the account of the Bible; and that therefore, the only way to be a true and consistent Abolitionist, is to be a pronounced Infidel. . . . I submit that all you are Pro-Slavery, in not being either God-deniers or God-haters.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery and the Bible.” The Boston Investigator, 1754 (Jan. 25, 1865): 298. Murray explains, “I do not go to the Bible to put down slavery any more than I do to the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is an attempted compromise between freedom and slavery – just as the Bible is a conglomeration, and at the same time a segregation, of truths and errors, of rights and wrongs, of moralities and immoralities. To go to either of them, as to infallible authorities, is self-stultification.”

John W. Cole. “Slavery and the Bible.” The Boston Investigator, 1755 (Feb. 1, 1865): 309. Cole concludes, “It is only within the past one or two hundred years that slavery has been considered unjust, and this state of feeling is the product of Infidelity, which has made innovations upon the Bible and shown the wickedness of many of its divinely sanctioned customs and practices.”

Slavery and the Law

B. Webb. “Slavery.” and Z. “Reply to Mr. Webb.” The Boston Investigator, 413 (Feb. 22, 1839): 2-3. Webb asserts that “The right of the master to the slave is the right of force, which right has been confirmed by legislative authority; therefore the redress of the evil is a proper subject for ‘political action.’”  Z unequivocally states his opposition to slavery, points out that Southern people do not consider slavery morally wrong, contends that the first thing to be performed is to change that opinion, and warns that without the consent and cooperation of Southern people, political action by abolitionists will only result in disunion.

D. “Mr. Z. and Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 414 (Mar. 1, 1839): 2. D. asks, “admitting that the Southerners think it right to hold slaves; are we to sit quietly down, until they feel disposed to relinquish what you call ‘their lawful property.’” Furthermore, D adds, “If by the Constitution and Laws, they hold their slaves, what is there so dreadful in a dissolution of the Union? If our union is founded in injustice and oppression; why let it be dissolved, to make way for a better.”

Reply of Z. to Mr. Webb’s Article.” The Boston Investigator, 422 (Apr. 24, 1839): 1. Z puts forth his belief that Northern abolitionists have no right under the federal constitution to force Southern states to abolish slavery, expresses his partiality for the Colonizationists, and his certainty that Southern people are “determined to regulate and abolish slavery in their own way and time, independent of northern officiousness, or any dictation whether foreign or domestic.”

W.W. “Slavery- Right of Petition.” The Boston Investigator, 423 (May 1, 1839): 1-2. W.W. recites some of the barbaric practices of American slavery and concludes, “What inertness to permit such a state of things to remain! And what infatuation to defend it, merely because custom, and law, have built a hedge about it; when it is a dereliction from the dictates of reason, a violation of natural feeling, and a prostration of immutable right!”

Z. “Reply to Mr. West.” The Boston Investigator, 426 (May 22, 1839): 3. Z clarifies his position by stating, “Slaveholding States may vote for the abolition of slavery within their own borders, for this right the constitution secures to them; but they have no authority to meddle with slavery in other States; nor has a free State any power thus to interfere with the proceedings of a slave State. Each State in its sovereignty is perfectly absolute and independent, so far as she is not limited by the United States; but this limitation in no wise has reference to the slave question, because slavery being one of those reserved rights which the slaveholding States retained at the time they joined the union, the Constitution of the United States has no power over it.”

B. Webb. “Slavery- No. III.” The Boston Investigator, 430 (June 19, 1839): 2. Webb concludes, “Z admits that slavery must eventually fall before the spirit of democracy; but how is it to fall without political action? I am not aware of any peaceable mode of effecting revolution in our legal institutions, but by political action going hand in hand with conviction. If slavery is ever abolished, it must be by repealing the laws that make the slave the property of the master.” To which Z replies, “The enforcement of a law compelling the slaveholder to yield his slaves, would inevitably result in the withdrawal of the slave States, in which case slavery would probably never be abolished. Legislation, to be effectual and right, cannot take precedence of public opinion.”

A Citizen of the United States. “To the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.” The Boston Investigator, 535-36 (Aug. 18-25, 1841). The author denies the right of Congress or the President to interfere or abolish slavery in either the District of Columbia or the South; contends that immediate emancipation would be a curse rather than a blessing; and implores the abolitionists to “take off the shackles and chains that gall the bodies, stupefy the minds, and sear the consciences of your own white slave brethren first.”

Norfolk. “Constitutions and Laws.” The Boston Investigator, 1024 (Jan. 8, 1851): 2. Advocating disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Law, Norfolk explains, “constitutions and laws may not violate with impunity the plain principles of justice; that when they do so, they cease to be safeguards to human rights, and merit in consequence the execration of all men.”

“The Fugitive Slave Case.” The Boston Investigator, 1031 (Feb. 26, 1851): 3. Reporting the rescue of a fugitive slave from a U.S. Court in Boston by a “body of negroes,” the editors comment “The rescue of the fugitive slave from the officers of the law was altogether wrong, and no excuse can justify it, because, when once the principle is admitted, there is an end at once to all law, and mobs must rule, which is the worst kind of tyranny. If this ground is correct it is better to obey even a bad law than resist by physical force its execution.”

“The Higher Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1032 (Mar. 5, 1851): 2. The editor opines, “This appeal to God’s laws for support of the common principles of justice only involves every idea of justice in a thick fog. The discussions on slavery, and the moral influence of it, have only shown that the moral force of the nation rests upon the Bible instead of resting upon everlasting principles of right; and that the slaveholders have continually the best of it, in sustaining their institution from the Bible.”

A Southerner. “Stand by the Law! A Brief Reply to Norfolk.” The Boston Investigator, 1033 (Mar. 12, 1851): 2. The author reaffirms his commitment to stand by the law, adding “There is no other alternative, if we mean to have any Law at all; for if you allow one body of men to trample down a Law they do not approve of, you must allow the same liberty to others, and this principle carried out cannot fail to destroy all Law and throw society back to that savage condition in which “might makes right,” for there are many other Laws besides the Fugitive Slave Law that are objectionable.”

Norfolk. The Fugitive Slave Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1038 (Apr. 16, 1851): 1. Replying to A Southerner, Norfolk writes that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 “is a graceless document, ripe for “treason, stratagems and spoils.” It is a shaft leveled at the weak and defenseless, having for its object aggression and outrage. No “law abiding” person can assist in carrying out that law without violating the fundamental principles of all law. To assist in carrying out that law, would be to act the part of traitor to mankind.”

Plymon Seaver. “Remarks on Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1039 (Apr. 23, 1851): 1. Commenting on the editor’s disparaging remarks concerning the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston, Seaver asks, “Must we condescend to outrage every feeling of benevolence, to trample on every principle of natural justice, and stifle the very heart beatings of humanity, because forsooth! a Congress of aspiring tyrants, bent on rendering perpetual the enslavement of a portion of the human race, have issued a law, making it our duty to do so?”

“The Fugitive Slave – Riots – Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1202 (June 7, 1854): 2. Reporting on the arrest, trial and remand of fugitive slave Anthony Burns in Boston, the editor argues that the only way to change unjust and tyrannical laws in a Republic is by changing public opinion rather than by mob violence.

Gerrit Smith. “Letter to Hon. William H. Seward.” Murray’s Review, 184 (May 1855): 113-15. Commenting on a speech by Seward on the Fugitive Slave Act, Smith argues that the superficiality of Seward’s anti-slavery is due to his erroneous views of law, human rights and civil government. Murray’s review precedes the letter.

“C.C. Burleigh.” Murray’s Review, 188 (Sept. 1855): 182. Murray notes, “It is a wonder to me that such men as Charles C. Burleigh, when they have convinced themselves and others that slavery is in the Constitution, and that therefore the Constitution is in that respect a bad guide, they do not see and show more clearly that slavery is in the Bible, and that the Bible is in the same respect worse than the Constitution by as much as it is more authoritative.

G.A. Hammett. “Practical Applications of Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1573 (July 17, 1861): 97-98. Beginning with the question, “What, then, should be the opinion of Atheists with regard to the return of fugitive slaves?” Hammett, in part, replies, “Let this most unjustifiable rebellion be suppressed by open, manly force; let hundreds of thousands of troops be precipitated upon the Southern States; but let not a great, a powerful, a warlike people endeavor to protect themselves by betraying the helpless fugitive slave. By returning fugitives, the Northern States do, in fact, become accessory to the guilt of slave-holding, and therefore if the practice should continue, the war would be merely between two nations of slave-holders.”

Tho. S. Wright. “Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 1655 (Feb. 25, 1863): 337-38. Wright concludes that “the right of slavery is a State right, legalized by the great compact of the Federal Government; and if the General Government undertakes to admonish that right, it acts on the principle of usurpation; which usurpation, most assuredly will destroy the loyalty of the several slave States, and produce rebellion.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery and the Bible.” The Boston Investigator, 1754 (Jan. 25, 1865): 298. Murray explains, “I do not go to the Bible to put down slavery any more than I do to the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is an attempted compromise between freedom and slavery – just as the Bible is a conglomeration, and at the same time a segregation, of truths and errors, of rights and wrongs, of moralities and immoralities. To go to either of them, as to infallible authorities, is self-stultification.”

“The Negro Question.” The Boston Investigator, 1793 (Oct. 25, 1865): 197. In response to a reader who criticizes the Investigator for its abolitionism, the editor remarks, “we are not and never were in favor of chattel slavery . . . . Negroes are men, and if not as a race equal in all respects to the whites, still they are men, naturally and physiologically considered. That has always been our opinion of them, and hence when we claim “equal and exact justice to all men,” we include negroes in the sum total, for we are not able to understand, as yet, that rights depend on nationality and color.”

“Slavery Forever Dead.” The Boston Investigator, 1803 (Jan. 3, 1866): 275. Announcing the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the editor reflects, “The great National Triumph of the present century has been achieved. Chattel Slavery is abolished forever! Thanks to the good sense of the American People by whom the curse has been removed. They have now ratified the doctrine first proclaimed seventy years ago by Thomas Paine that “Man has no property in Man;” and today throughout all our vast borders, the Great Republic is Free.”

Anti-Slavery  Movement

Frances Wright. “A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States, Without Danger of Loss to the Citizens of the South.” New Harmony Gazette, 1:1 (Oct. 1, 1825): 4-5. Wright begins with the assertion that “any plan of emancipation, to be effectual, must consult at once the pecuniary interests and prevailing opinions of the southern planters, and bend itself to the existing laws of the southern states. In consequence it appears indispensable that emancipation be connected with colonization, and that it demand no pecuniary sacrifice from existing slave-holders, and entail no loss of property on their children.”

Editorial. New Harmony Gazette, 2:22 (Feb. 28, 1827): 174. The editor opines, “To a forced and precipitate emancipation either of the slave or of his master we are opposed: but emancipation gradual and effective, based upon education and emanating from intelligence and industry, we shall hail as one of the greatest victories American liberality may gain over unworthy and ignorant prejudice.”

Frances Wright. “Establishment at Nashoba, West Tennessee, for the Benefit of the Negro Race.” New Harmony Gazette, 2:21 (Feb. 21, 1827): 164-65. Among the stated objects of the trust, consisting of approximately 1860 acres along the Wolf River, Shelby County, Tennessee, were to provide a school for “colored children” and that “all negroes emancipated by the trustees, shall on quitting the lands of the institution, be placed out of the limits of the United States.”

“Communications from the Trustees of Nashoba.” New Harmony Gazette, 2:22 (Feb. 28, 1827): 173. The trustees detail their plans for emancipating children slaves sent without their parents noting that they will “remain until twenty one years of age, when it is believed they will have refunded, by their labor, the expenses incurred for their education and support.”

Editorial. New Harmony Gazette, 2:34 (May 23, 1827): 270. The author argues that all proposals for the emancipation of the slave are “premature, unless it provide for the previous instruction and mental elevation of the slave.”

“Nashoba. Explanatory Notes, Respecting the Nature and Objects of the Institution of Nashoba, and of the Principles upon which it is Founded.” New Harmony Gazette, 3:16-18 (Jan. 30-Feb. 13, 1828): 124-25, 132-33, 140-41. In presenting the principles that shall guide the formation of Nashoba, Wright observes “The strength of the prejudice of color as existing in the United States and in the European colonies can in general be little conceived and less understood in the old continent. Yet however whimsical it may there appear, is it in fact more ridiculous than the European prejudice of birth? The superior excellence which the one supposes in a peculiar descent or merely in a peculiar name, the other imagines in a peculiar complexion or set of features. And perhaps it is only by considering man in many countries and observing all his varying and contradictory prejudices that we can discover the equal absurdity of all.”

“Communication from the Trustees of Nashoba.” New Harmony Gazette, 3:22 (Mar. 26, 1828): 172. The trustees announce “that they have deferred for the present the attempt to form a society of cooperative labor.”

Africanus. “Communications.” Delaware Free Press, 1:29 (July 17, 1830): 2-3. In an untitled letter, Africanus assures the editors that “the enlightened part of the population of colored people, in this country, are strenuously opposed to emigration to Liberia” and that the Colonization Society’s efforts to establish colonial settlements on the coast of Africa will “never meliorate the condition of our colored brethren in these United States.”

Abraham D. Shad, Peter Spencer & William S. Thomas. “Address of the Free People of Color of the Borough of Wilmington, Delaware.” Delaware Free Press, 2:32 (Aug. 6, 1831): 2-3. The authors express their “unequivocal disapprobation of the American Colonization Society” and argues that their plan is actually impeding the emancipation of slaves in the Southern states.

“The Insurrection in Virginia.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:3 (Sept. 3, 1831): 1. Reporting a slave revolt in Southampton county, Virginia, the editor advocates gradual emancipation.

A Free Colored Floridian. “Prejudice against Color.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:7 (Oct. 1, 1831): 3. This is a circular which encourages the “free people of color” to seek refuge in Mexico where they can “peaceably exist by the fruits of their own industry.”

“Negro Slavery.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:7 (Oct. 1, 1831): 1. The editor remarks that the eradication of slavery must be “done by degrees, as well for the safety of the slaves as the slaveholders, but it must be done as rapidly as is consistent with the safety of both. Instead of the numbers of slaves increasing, they must decrease, and instead of passing laws to keep them in ignorance, they must be enlightened.”

Anti-Slavite. “Anti-Slavery Society.” The Boston Investigator, 56 (Apr. 20, 1832): 2. In reviewing a recent address of the anti-slavery society, the author, while approving “the general tenor of the address,” endeavors to show that “whenever [the anti-slavery society] wander into unknown regions, and lug in “God,” neck and heels, and providence, immortal souls, the judgment of heaven, &c, &c, they lose their reason and common sense, and then become inconsistent with themselves.”

“American Colonization Society.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:45 (June 22, 1833): 1. This is a summary of the proceedings of a recent American Colonization Society meeting with comments from the editor. In conclusion, the editor remarks, “If the colonization scheme were only regarded as a scheme for colonizing the Clergy, which we belief it mainly is, we should not so much object to it; but so far as it is considered a scheme of negro emancipation, we look upon it as producing evil, by diverting the efforts of the benevolent from what is practicable in favor of emancipation.”

An Enemy of Slavery. “Slavery.” The Free Enquirer, 1:34 (June 15, 1834): 270-21. The author reports on the Anti-Slavery Society’s first anniversary meeting, the rancor which existed between the Emancipationists and the Colonizationists, and concludes “so long as there are so many sectarians and clergymen engaged in this thing, just so long the difficulty will be in agreeing as to the best mode of emancipating them, because they are more anxious to make them sectarians than they are to rescue them from personal bondage and mental degradation.”

An Enemy to Slavery. “Declaration of War.” The Free Enquirer, 1:38 (Aug. 3, 1834): 302-03. The author questions the efficacy of certain abolitionists’ assertion that Jesus was a coloured man as a reason for their opposition to slavery.

“Abolition.” Ohio Watchman, 1:8-9 (Aug. 29-Sept. 26, 1835): 3, 3. The editor refers to Theodore Dwight Weld and the Tappans as “religious fanatics and abolition incendiaries” and their anti-slavery message as “mad folly.”

Letter from William R. Rodgers. The Boston Investigator, 233 (Sept. 11, 1835): 1-2. Rodgers begins, “If the emancipationists for the abolition of slavery at the South, would turn their attention to the north and emancipate the human mind by the abolition of priestcraft, what a noble service they would render to their fellow men. The slavery of the body is nothing, compared with the slavery of the mind. . . .”

“Views of the Abolitionists.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 7:14 (Nov. 21, 1835): 3. Responding to comments made by Governor Vroom of New Jersey concerning abolitionists laboring to achieve immediate emancipation “without and against the consent of those communities in which it (slavery)  is recognized”, the editor remarks, “We believe many of them are actuated by a species of fanaticism, and are desirous of freeing the slaves, more for the purpose of adding them to a religious sect than for a love of liberty or justice; but their desire to free the slaves, so far as they can do so by the force of moral power, we believe to be a good and a just cause, and one that they have not attempted to advance by any but constitutional means.”

A.K. “Abolitionists.” The Boston Investigator, 315 (Apr. 7, 1837): 2. Kneeland writes, “We are not prepared to admit that slavery in our southern states is an evil until we can see better proof than we have hitherto seen that the slaves of the South are less happy than the free Negroes of the North. We believe there is a chain from the vegetable organic matter upwards, even to the most polished man; and we are not disposed to alter the size of the links.”

Henry Dow. “Abolitionism.” The Boston Investigator, 356 (Jan. 19, 1838): 2.  Dow, a southern subscriber, charges the editor of the Investigator with being an abolitionist.  Kneeland responds, “If an Abolitionist means one who is in favor of the abolition of all slavery, mental as well as bodily, and mental first, taking good care to begin at home, without disturbing our neighbors, then we are an Abolitionist, and glory in the charge. But if an Abolitionist means one who is in favor of agitating the question in the North, respecting Southern slavery, then we are not an Abolitionist.”  Kneeland adds, “If slavery is ever abolished, it must be done by the sovereign power of the States where it exists.”

Abolition and Abolitionists.” The Boston Investigator, 496 (Oct. 28, 1840): 2. The Corrector reports on the Anti-Slavery convention held in London, the exclusion of women from the convention, and the subsequent meeting convened in Glasgow.

A Citizen of the United States. “To the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.” The Boston Investigator, 535-36 (Aug. 18-25, 1841). The author denies the right of Congress or the President to interfere or abolish slavery in either the District of Columbia or the South; contends that immediate emancipation would be a curse rather than a blessing; and implores the abolitionists to “take off the shackles and chains that gall the bodies, stupefy the minds, and sear the consciences of your own white slave brethren first.”

Editor. “The Come-Outists.” The Boston Investigator, 583 (July 20, 1842): 2. The editor reports that the Come-out-ists, a sect of the abolition movement, resolved to no longer extend “their fellowship” to abolitionists unwilling to use active means to abolish slavery. The editor further notes that, “they are determined not to make boy’s play of abolitionism. They wish to revive the decayed zeal of the party; but, to their great chagrin, they find the great body of the church and of the priesthood determinedly opposed to them.”

“Partyism.” The Regenerator, 33 (July 7, 1845): 130-31. These columns feature a letter from Horace Greeley, reprinted from the Cincinnati Herald and Philanthropist, in which Greeley identifies what he conceives to be the essential characteristics of human slavery and what the duties of abolitionists should be based on these principles. Adjoining Greeley’s letter are comments from Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the Herald and Orson S. Murray.

Montgarnier. “The “Scrap Book.”- No. 62. The Abolition Movement.” The Boston Investigator, 748 (Sept. 24, 1845): 1. Montgarnier states, “The come-outers attack Church and State as the two most active engines of tyranny extant. In attacking them, they attack also the usurpations of these two institutions in the social as well as the moral world. For this, they are denounced as Infidels, disorganizers, traitors, fanatics, madman, etc., by the same meek and charity-loving church which has cast them out.”

“Cassius M. Clay.” The Boston Investigator, 765 (Jan. 21, 1846): 3. The editor contends that many of the most prominent abolitionists in New England are Infidels, suggests that “if all but Christians were weeded out of the ranks of the Anti-Slavery party, its numbers would be woefully thinned,” and concludes “if slavery is ever abolished, it will be done in spite of Christians and Christianity.”

Truth-Teller. “Free Meetings.” The Boston Investigator, 850 (Sept. 8, 1847): 2. The author reports, “I once heard William Lloyd Garrison say in a public assembly, that when he delivered his first anti-slavery lecture in Boston, the only Hall he could obtain in the city for that purpose was the Hall occupied by the Infidels, or Abner Kneeland’s society, and that they invited him to lecture there. Every church and Christian hall of every kind was shut against him.”

E. Woodworth. “Anti-Slavery- Infidelity in Disguise.” The Boston Investigator, 852 (Sept. 22, 1847): 1. Woodworth concludes that “abolitionists maneuvering, so far as theology is concerned, is strongly marked with sophistry, cant, and craft, and will only have the effect to prolong the day of slavery and superstition – physical and mental bondage: and I am also persuaded that if Abolitionists were to speak the honest sentiments of their minds, on the subject of religion, they would be found to be Infidel to the Bible and Christianity.”

G. Meriwether. “Slavery – Emancipation.” The Boston Investigator, 942 (June 13, 1849): 4. Reprinted from the Green River Whig (Kentucky). Meriwether proposes putting the scheme of emancipation (the gradual removal of the slave population via colonization) before the electorate.

“James and Lucretia Mott.” The Regenerator, 135 (Dec. 1849): 103. Murray extracts passages from a leading editorial in The Liberator by this title to show “brother Garrison’s religion” and contends that “With all brother Garrison’s zeal and devotion, as an advocate of liberty, he is in most abject, degrading slavery to a god dictated to him by the ignorant ones of former times. It was a valuable suggestion to him from Lucretia Mott it seems, that there is a possibility of error in the Old Testament writings. If he should be happy enough to find some one from whom he can receive the suggestion that there is not only a possibility, but probability – nay certainty – of error, and abundance of it, in the New Testament also, it will be additional benefit to him.”

“Slavery- Colonization.” The Boston Investigator, 1007 (Sept. 11, 1850): 1. A letter signed by “A Friend of Colonization, but not of Abolition Without It,” mailed from St. Louis, Missouri. The author concludes, “Now if the friends of Abolition will only first prove that the blacks are of the same race as the whites, and that they will mix without deterioration to either, and that they can live together on an equality, they will have some reason to advocate it against Colonization. If, however, they cannot satisfactorily prove these things, then it would appear that they are fanatics.”

“Infidels- Atheists.” The Boston Investigator, 1007 (Sept. 11, 1850): 2. This article includes Henry C. Wright’s report of an abolitionist meeting held in Lichfield, Medina Co., Ohio and reprinted from The Liberator. The following resolution was offered at the meeting. “Resolved, That the popular ideas of religion entertained by this nation, in Church and State, co-exist in harmony with slavery, and that fidelity to self-evident truth demands that we should be Infidels to such a religion, and seek its overthrow as the enemy of human freedom.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery.” Murray’s Review, 185 (June 1855): 129-31. The article features Murray’s report of an Anti-Slavery convention in Cincinnati held in April 1855 in which it was resolved that “American slavery is antagonistic to the principles of Christianity,” and “an insult to God.”   Murray begins with the contention that “The worst of all slavery now in existence is the slavery in which Christendom is held by the Bible. It is the most extensive and the most destructive. African slavery is only a branch of the tree- or a sprout from its root. Hence the ineffectiveness of the work of the abolitionists for the last quarter of a century.”

“Letter from Dr. [Samuel] Ludvigh.” The Boston Investigator, 1347 (Mar. 18, 1857): 1-2. Writing from New Orleans, Ludvigh reports on his arrest and denouncement as an abolitionist in Savannah Georgia.

Orson S. Murray. “Crying unto Heavens for Redress.” The Boston Investigator, 1469 (July 20, 1859): 97. Murray takes issue with The Liberator’s call for a 4th of July Anti-Slavery celebration on behalf of the “millions whose unutterable wrongs are crying unto Heavens for redress,” asks “Why look to such a source for relief, or expect anything from it?,” and counsels, “It is high time for our Anti-Slavery friends to take their work out of the influence of such a power. . . . Emancipators to be most effective, must not themselves be in this [mental] bondage.”

G.A. Hammett. “Good Will to the Master. Charity to the Slave.” The Boston Investigator, 1536 (Oct. 31, 1860): 217. Hammett suggests to those opposed to slavery to sacrifice one-fourth of their property to purchase the freedom of slaves, state-by-state, until the whole union is free.

G.A. Hammett. “Slavery and Christianity.” The Boston Investigator, 1545 (Jan. 2, 1861): 289. Hammett contends that “the intellectual inferiority of the negroes is exaggerated” that the white race is not really superior in beauty to the black race, that the condition of the slaves would be improved by emancipation and only questions whether “the emancipation of the slaves would be beneficial to their owners, if there were paid to them a sum sufficient for complete indemnification against pecuniary lose.”

Mac. “Reply to Dr. Hammett on Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 1550 (Feb. 6, 1861): 328. Mac contends that since the Negroes were forcibly brought to this country, justice demands that they be returned to their homes, however, if they cannot be purchased and repatriated, given their intellectual inferiority, it is better for them to “remain as they are.”

G.A. Hammett. “Reply to “Mac,” on Slavery.” The Boston Investigator, 1556 (Mar. 20, 1861): 378. Responding to Mac’s assertion that he would not support emancipation without complete repatriation, Hammett replies, “[T]hough it is often irksome to do our duty and render justice to our fellow men, yet reason and experience indicate that undeviating integrity is best adapted to promote our permanent welfare.” Oddly, Hammett signs, “Yours, for Christian Atheism.”

W.G. “Atheism – Abolitionism – Wendell Phillips.” The Boston Investigator, 1562 (May 1, 1861): 14. Having read abolitionist speeches for some twenty years, the author claims that its most prominent orators constantly trash atheism and infidelity as immoral and knavish and then provides a recent example from a sermon delivered by Wendell Phillips.

LaRoy Sunderland. “Wendell Phillips.” The Boston Investigator, 1564 (May 15, 1861): 29. Sunderland disputes that Phillips recently trashed atheists and attests that Phillips is a “friend to the cause of Mental Freedom,” and that “His goodness, his truthfulness, and his integrity of character, place him in the front rank among Nature’s noblemen.”

“Emancipation.” The Boston Investigator, 1611 (Apr. 9, 1862): 381. Responding to the suggestion that the Investigator is inclined to emancipation, the editor remarks “The plan of Henry Clay, that the Government should buy the slaves and set them free, always seemed to us to be right and proper under the circumstances. And it has been most disastrous for the country that his plan was not adopted. It would have taken less money than to carry through this war, to say nothing of the sacrifice of life, which is altogether incalculable in dollars and cents. We see no good reason to suppose that the experiment of emancipation “would be dangerous,” or if so, that it could be as dangerous as this war, for we presume the blacks might be hired as free laborers.”

“Colonization – Emancipation.” The Boston Investigator, 1632 (Sept. 17, 1862): 157. Reporting on a meeting between the U.S. President and a “committee of colored men” to discuss “emigrating to Central America,” the author remarks, “We doubt the feasibility of colonization, while we can discover no good reason why universal emancipation should not take place. It would of course be more in harmony with the genius of free institutions, for slavery in a republic is a frightful inconsistency. As a war measure, also, it is unobjectionable, for we have a right to take from the enemy anything that he calls property. And finally, it would be better for the pecuniary interest of the planters, for we believe it can be shown by reliable figures that colored people can produce more as freemen than as slaves. If these three reasons are sound, they prove the righteousness, the justice, and the profit of emancipation.”

Matthew F. Pickles. “Truth Better than Earnestness.” The Boston Investigator, 1687 (Oct. 14, 1863): 179. Pickles argues that if the object of the war is to preserve the union than those who have planned and plotted for disunion are the cause of the war. He then presents evidence to prove that abolitionists were the first people to publish arguments in favor of the right of secession.

Orson S. Murray. ““Truth” and “Earnestness” “Better Than” Pretension without Performance.” The Boston Investigator, 1711-13 (Mar. 30 – Apr. 13, 1864): 371, 379, 387. Murray argues, “If any party in the North are justly chargeable with doing anything to “cause” the war, it is the party who have encouraged the South in their course- who have shown the South sympathy in their aggressions upon freedom, and given them to expect aid from the Northern allies, in their war for the subjugation of all to the Southern sovereignty. These are justly chargeable with having helped to cause the war.” In addition, Murray remarks, “Abolition stands in the same relation to State slavery that Infidelity does to church-slavery. Abolition is no more responsible for the war than infidelity is responsible for the persecution of Thomas Paine, Abner Kneeland, the Boston Investigator and all heretics. Infidels expose and denounce church-slavery; and the church wages war to deprive them of their natural rights. Abolitionists expose and denounce state-slavery; and slaveocracy wages war upon Abolitionists and as many as stand in the way of its supremacy.” Finally, Murray responds to Seaver’s assertion that “no practicable, feasible plan has been brought forward for the relief of the slave.”

“Replies to Correspondents.” The Boston Investigator, 1713 (Apr. 13, 1864): 390. In response to Murray’s three articles under the title “”Truth” and “Earnestness,”” the editor responds, “Not a line did we ever write that by any fair interpretation could be made to favor slavery; and if you intend to intimate any such thing, you are governed more by fanaticism and prejudice than by reason and judgment. We have said, and now say again, that neither in the North nor South has any feasible, practicable plan been brought forward for the settlement of the slavery question; and nothing that you have advanced. . . . has changed in the slightest degree our former and present opinion.”

M.F. Pickles. “Abolition.” The Boston Investigator, 1714 (Apr. 20, 1864): 394. Pickles replies to Murray, “It comes with bad grace from one in sympathy with violence and vandalism, to stigmatize the Southerners with being gentlemen of the bowie-knife and revolver, in the presence of all this abolition cry for “blood letting.  John Brown, an “earnest” abolitionist stole (under a false name) into a peaceable valley in Virginia with abolition rifles, pistols, bowie-knifes, and pikes, for the purpose of massacre; and, strange to relate, to Mr. Murray this midnight murderer occupies the place of the abolished Bible God. Worthy successor! What strange, fantastic tricks some men perform in the name of philanthropy! ”

M.F. Pickles. “Abolition. Its Pretensions – Its Performance.” The Boston Investigator, 1716 (May 4, 1864): 410. Pickles provides additional quotations from abolitionist writings to support his thesis that abolitionists have long supported disunion.

James Phillips. “Abolition and the War.” The Boston Investigator, 1706 (Mar. 2, 1864): 338. Phillips, a subscriber, concludes, “Those that have witnessed the carnage of one battle field to abolish slavery, have seen more human misery in one day than slavery has inflicted on the negro since the first African set foot on American soil. These two pet phrases, “the curse of slavery” and “the horrors of infidelity,” are coined by demagogues to deceive their dupes, while one is robbing Uncle Sam’s treasury and the other the Lord’s treasury.”

Freedom of Speech and the Question of Slavery

“Honorable Mr. Bynum, Member of Congress from N. Carolina.” Cleveland Liberalist, 1:28 (Mar. 25, 1837): 221-22. Underhill asks “Is it less than folly to talk of stability in states whose security depends upon repressing free enquiry? Must not one be blind to perceive, that the true reason why you repress free discussion, is because your condition is one at variance with truth and justice? . . . So far then from approving your denunciations in this case, against the clergy, I must say that history records few instances of devotedness marked with stronger indications of an exemption from unhallowed motives than in the untiring exertions of the Northern abolitionist.”

A.K. “The Alton Riots and Murder.” The Boston Investigator, 349 (Dec. 1, 1837): 2. Reporting on the murder of Elijah Lovejoy by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, Kneeland comments, “we believe that the death of Lovejoy will aid the cause of abolition; not so much because abolitionists are right, or that they are wise in all their measures (for we are decidedly opposed to much of their proceedings on this score); but because the cause of abolition is inseparably connected with the cause of free discussion, which is also inseparably connected with all our civil and religious liberties.”

“Free Thought and Free Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1306, 1309-1310 (June 4, 25, July 2, 1856). In the first article of the series, the editor observes, “The cloud that now hangs over our political horizon, and alarms by its portentous appearance the wise and prudent, engendering civil war in the West and attempted assassination in the Senate Chamber at Washington, had its origin in the denial of the principle for which we are contending.The discussion of a certain question was endeavored to be prohibited, but as the prohibition was impossible in the very nature of the human mind, the discussion went on, until finally this vast nation shakes with the frenzy and excitement produced by the efforts to prevent this discussion; and in the angry feelings that it has caused between the South and the North, it has realized in itself the prediction charged to religion – “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” And thus we stand at the present moment in regard to the “vexed question” of slavery. The trouble growing there form, has been produced by the vain attempt to stop its discussion; for as this was impossible, nothing but trouble could follow such an attempt.”

“Brooks and Sumner.” The Boston Investigator, 1308 (June 18, 1856): 2. The editor describes the attack of Brooks upon Mr. Sumner as “cowardly,” a “national calamity,” and “a blow intended for the destruction of Free Speech.”

“North and South.” The Boston Investigator, 1311 (July 9, 1856): 2. The editor remarks, “It is not much to be wondered at perhaps that Southern men, surrounded by slavery and growing up under its influence, should be in favor of it, at least to a greater extent than the inhabitants of the North, where it does not exist. Yet it is a curious fact, that the position we have taken in our paper (that slavery should be discussed as well as other subjects) meets with opposition from some of our subscribers at the North not less than at the South.”

A. Ballou’s “Freedom of Debate.” The Boston Investigator, 1312 (July 16, 1856): 1. Astonished by liberals who would request that their paper be stopped on account of the Investigator‘s defense of freedom of speech on the question of slavery, Ballou remarks, “Had the words of censure emanated from the “church,” they would have been deemed reprehensible, but from persons supposed to entertain Liberal views, they are entirely unaccountable and cannot be too severely condemned.”

William P. Lippincott. The Boston Investigator, “Free Thought and Free Speech.” 1313 (July 23, 1856): 1. Following the discussion regarding free speech and the question of slavery in the Investigator, Lippincott concludes, “Calling Infidels “Liberals” is wrong, for there are as many bigots amongst Infidels as there are amongst Christians, in proportion to their numbers.”

J.A. Stewart. “Free Thought and Free Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1314 (July 30, 1856): 1. Reflecting on the beating of Sumner in the Senate of the United States, Stewart argues that “An honest conviction is not a sufficient license for inconsiderate and foolish freedom of speech,” and concludes “if rash men of the South, and fanatics of the North would exercise more prudence in debate and in their general deportment, there would be fewer acts of violence to disturb the public peace.” The editor remarks, “if we understand our friend, slavery must not be discussed, because such discussion is fanatical,” and reminds Stewart that there is a remedy at law for speech which destroys another man’s character.

Minor Meriwether. “The Boston Investigator.” The Boston Investigator, 1316 (Aug. 13, 1856): 2. Meriwether writes, “Shame! Shame upon the proscriptive bigotry of such men- men who profess to love universal mental liberty, and yet stretch you on the Procrustean bed of their own narrow creed, and lop off your head for advocating freedom of speech on the subject of slavery! And they call themselves Infidels!” In his reply, the editor reports that this ongoing controversy has resulted in having “to cross off the names of seven hundred subscribers from our list.”

J.A. Stewart. “Freedom of Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1318 (Aug. 27, 1856): 1. Stewart adds, “I object to the discussion of slavery only when the time and manner and place of said discussion threaten the dissolution of our Union, or tend to incite negroes to insurrection against their masters, or to seriously disturb the peace of our society.”

“Patience – Decision – Newspapers.” The Boston Investigator, 1496 (Jan. 25, 1860): 317. The editor responds to a “stop my paper” request from a Georgia subscriber and self-described “obedient servant” to the Investigator  by remarking, in part, that “as the Investigator is not a political paper, we do not wish to publish partisan articles either for or against Southern Slavery. The paper was not established for any such purpose, nor do we feel disposed to change the course it has pursued for nearly twenty-nine years. What it has been, it is and will be – an Infidel or anti-religious journal, devoted to mental, moral, and theological subjects, rather than the maintenance of the tactics of any political party.”

“Giving Satisfaction.” The Boston Investigator, 1508 (Apr. 25, 1860): 5. Under this title is a letter from Anson Hull of East Berkshire, Vermont which begins, “I regret to say, “stop my paper,” for the same reason that many others do. I dislike the fumes of Abolitionism and holy-loving niggerism.”

Jno. Downright. “What an Old Fogey Thinks.” The Boston Investigator, 1539 (Nov. 21, 1860): 242. Downright expresses his contempt for modern Infidelity especially those “sects” which advocate temperance, spiritualism and the emancipation of slaves and concludes, “while the advocates of mental liberty are advocates, also, of free love, free niggers, and the like dangerous systems of fool-osophy, I do not wish to be identified with them.”

Jno. Ambrose. “Slavery- Reply to Dr. Hammett.” The Boston Investigator, 1540 (Nov. 28, 1860): 250. Writing from Richland, Mississippi, Ambrose asserts that “The Dr. takes it for granted that the Negroes desire freedom, that it would be a boon to them. These are perhaps great mistakes, the latter especially. As for the first, it does not exist generally, and would not even partially, were they not meddled with and stimulated with false hopes by occasionally a busybody in the shape of a bigoted and fanatical abolitionist.”

From the South- Stopping Papers.” The Boston Investigator, 1543 (Dec. 19, 1860): 278. Responding to yet another request from a Southern subscriber to stop the Investigator, the editor remarks, “in the Southern states we have but few subscribers in comparison with Northern and Western States; and what we do have (or some of them) are seceding from our list, one after another. Every week we receive notices of a dissolution of the union that once existed between Southern subscribers and the Investigator; not because these friends love the Church, but because they hate the North. We don’t exactly see, though, why they should spite themselves, and make a scapegoat of us, merely on account of their dislike of our politicians! We Infidels are crowded down enough politically, one would think, by Northern bigots, without having the screws put upon us by Southern Infidels.”

Dutchman. “Mind your own Business!” The Boston Investigator, 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 346. The Dutchman writes, “I see that the “disturbing element of the North American continent”- the negro- has wriggled itself into the center of those Infidel battalions, which, firm and fearless thus far, have gathered around the ancient standard of Union- the Investigator. Mayhap- and the very idea breeds gloom- there will be a division in these ranks, similar to that which exists in the Methodist, and other Christian sects, in the United States . . . . If so, I hope our anti-slavery Infidel friends will not treat us- the pro-slavery minority- as the dominant party of the North treat their brethren of the South.” The author concludes, “[I]n respect of slavery, I think it best for each Infidel to adopt the Investigator editorial notion, and “Mind his own business.” Not wishing to prevent free discussion, I yet humbly wish to read an infidel paper, without being free discussion-ed into an “irrepressible” word-war about negro, negro, negro!”

“Encouraging Letter from the South.” The Boston Investigator, 1552 (Feb. 20, 1861): 349. Writing from Uniontown, Alabama, the author qualifies himself as a union man and states, “I shall not- no never! desert the Investigator, so long as she maintains the right of Freethinking and Truth-speaking.”

“The Investigator.” The Boston Investigator, 1554 (Mar. 6, 1861): 364. This article features a letter in which the author notes that Boston’s German language Infidel paper, Der Pionier, edited by Karl Heinzen, has lost about all its Southern subscribers on account of its discussion of slavery.

B.L. Prescott. “A Letter from Georgia” and James D. Harris. “A Letter from Mississippi.” The Boston Investigator, 1557 (Mar. 27, 1861): 387. Prescott requests that his paper be stopped given that, “in this quarter” it “brings odium on all who wink at it,” while Harris pleads for unity among infidels, arguing that “our political troubles have all originated from the Bible, or the religious sects, and now is the accepted time to strike a deadly blow at its roots.”

K.W. “What will you Do?” The Boston Investigator, 1557 (Mar. 27, 1861): 389. Responding to a correspondent’s suggestion that the Investigator “give up the discussion of slavery” on grounds that it sows “dissensions in our ranks” and the “abolitionist have little or no sympathy for us,” the editor responds, “while we are sorry to see any division among us, and are well aware that our paper is in a critical condition, still we cannot dictate to our correspondents what subjects they shall write upon. Our press being free, we ought not to turn censor; for in that case, the freedom we claim for ourselves, we refuse to others, and that principle will never do for us.”

J.U. Ball. “Another Letter from Louisiana.” The Boston Investigator, 1560 (Apr. 17, 1861): 413. Ball contends, “We have enemies enough in the ranks of bigotry and superstition, and it is too great a satire upon our philosophy for the world to behold our wrangling and quarreling with each other. In order to effect a better state of feeling, I would respectfully suggest that you keep to your text and do not fill your paper with opprobrious epithets against those whose destiny has been thrown with the institution of slavery.”

Wm. C. Hunt. “A Liberal Letter from Arkansas.” The Boston Investigator, 1561 (Apr. 24, 1861): 5. Hunt reveals, “I have been a regular subscriber for about seven years. I cannot part with the Investigator now. The great truths, for which you are so nobly contending, become dearer to me with the advance of age. True we may differ on many points. On the subject of slavery, Northern and Southern opinion must ever be essentially different. It cannot be otherwise. Our opinions are the necessary result of our surroundings. We of the South know that you of the North are a great people, without African slavery. We of the South have already shown the world that national prosperity and greatness are not inconsistent with the so-much abused system of African slavery. Let us agree to differ – the right to differ is one of the dearest, for which the Investigator contends.”

Here is a letter from J.W. Jones of Schenectady, New York. The Boston Investigator, 1562 (May 1, 1861): 13. The author confesses to be a Southern man in sentiment and feeling after residing in the South for nearly 15 years. However, he expresses “regret to see so many ungenerous notices from our Southern friends “to stop my paper.” Our professedly Liberal friends are too sensitive, and I fear in many cases too hasty.”

J. Seebold. “Taking Sides.” The Boston Investigator, 1563 (May 8, 1861): 18. Seebold recommends, “Atheists and Infidels, living North and South, as well as others, have their own opinions on the subject of Slavery, and the less it is adverted to and published in our paper, the Investigator, the more harmony and good feeling will prevail amongst our kindred spirits, or moralists, North and South. Whether Slavery is good or evil, let it rest with those who have it. . . . Let our broadsides be fired against the prevailing superstition of the masses, or rather against the mass of superstition, for which purpose I hope we have all of us enlisted.”

Orson S. Murray. “Slavery – Free Discussion.” The Boston Investigator, 1564 (May 15, 1861): 26. Murray swears, “The Infidels who think Infidelity is to save the world from the evil of Ignorance, and yet counsel silence on what is now passing, are ignorant of their own epoch. Such are worthy the stigma cast upon them by the superstitious, in giving them an opprobrious name. They are wanting in fidelity to humanity. They forfeit the confidence of those who look to them to save mankind from the thralldom of ignorance, imposed by State as well as Church. Infidelity to Superstition is good- great good; but if it does not imply and involve fidelity to all great truths, promotive of human improvement, it so much belittles and makes bigots. If an infidel is to be a man of but one idea, he is to be a very small man. It is this one-ideaism, this opposition to investigation for self-knowledge and self-improvement, that is the destruction of religionists.”

“A Letter from the South.” The Boston Investigator, 1564 (May 15, 1861): 29. Writing from El Dorado, Arkansas, Edmond Mahony testifies, “I should be wanting in my duty to my State and country, if I continued subscribing for a paper which is calling us traitors, rebels, revolutionists, &c.; which is selecting news (relating to secessionists and secession States) which have no foundation in truth-  news which are distorting facts, and a paper whose columns are filled with abolition slang disgusting to the Southern mind, and insulting to their feelings.”

Dutchman. “Free Speech Run Mad.” The Boston Investigator, 1567 (June 5, 1861): 51. The author asks, “When danger to our cause or our paper threatens, as a consequence of slavery agitation, will not free speech avert the danger by good-natured forbearance? Or will it blindly invite its approach? What fanaticism more fanatic? In the name of common sense, is there nothing to talk about but “nigger?”  . . . . Everyday’s experience teaches me that there are times to speak and times to be silent. If I think a man a rogue, it is not necessary for me to tell him so, and thereby risk a broken head, or the hatred of him and his people.”

T.W.G. “Conservatism.” The Boston Investigator, 1568 (June 12, 1861): 61. After suggesting that anti-slavery subscribers send their abolitionist’s articles to The Liberator instead of the Investigator, the author remarks, “Some of your contributors seem to write as if they thought that enough had been said on the subject of Infidelity, and that it was time to drop it; but they should remember that inquirers are every day looking for Infidel arguments, and if we neglect our young friends, the church may catch them.”

Thomas Curtis. “Is Infidelity of any Practical Service?” The Boston Investigator, 1569 (June 19, 1861): 66. Reflecting upon all the requests from infidels to put aside the discussion of slavery, Curtis contends “there can never be any important question regarding man’s welfare raised, without infidelity being deeply interested. . . . And in no subject are infidels more deeply interested than human slavery. It is all the same whether of the muscles or the brain; without the first being set free the second must remain in bondage, and in my opinion the only true Infidel is he who would break every chain that fetters man mentally and physically.”

“Extract from a Letter.” The Boston Investigator, 1569 (June 19, 1861): 70. Expressing his opposition to “party politics” in the Investigator, the author suggests “I think we had all better keep to our text, if we desire to make headway against priestcraft and superstition; for if we become a political party, we shall be divided in sentiment, weakened in strength, and the day of our deliverance put further off.”

Robert Wilde. “Free Thought and Free Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1571 (July 3, 1861): 85. Wilde concludes his letter “no one can be a consistent Infidel who is anxious to exclude any subject from being discussed that affects our character before the world, or the permanent peace of our country. Further, it appears to me that we have not only the right, or rather, it is not only just that we expose existing evils, but it is our duty. And once more – “None ever feared that the truth should be heard, But they whom the truth would indict.””

“Friendly Criticism.” The Boston Investigator, 1572 (July 10, 1861): 93. J. Williams Thorne introduces this letter by asking, “If Infidels, as a class, are as likely to be pro-slavery and unjust as Christians, what shall we gain by substituting the former for the later.”

J. Van Trump. “A Letter from Missouri.” The Boston Investigator, 1573 (July 17, 1861): 101. The author writes, “I am extremely sorry to see your Southern subscribers dropping off so fast. I cannot see what kind of Infidelity or Liberalism they possess. I am myself a Southern rights man of the Jefferson or Douglas school, yet I am always ready and ever glad to hear opinions from the opposition, as it gives me an opportunity to present to them what I conceive to be truth; but to break out, as our Southern brethren do and halloo “stop my paper” and quarrel about this and that article, shows a bigoted disposition, and is a virtual acknowledgement of the position of your antagonist.”

Orson S. Murray. “Discussion – Investigation.” The Boston Investigator, 1575 (July 31, 1861): 114. Murray notes, “Now, if some of the readers of the Investigator can’t bear investigation of the subject of human rights, and if it is indispensible to humor them all and not to frighten nor agonize any of them with overmuch of reason and righteousness, why, then those who want the food that belongs to grown-up humanity must refrain from what they want and put up with the treatment that belongs to babes. . . . I do believe though – I must believe – that if the pleasure of the readers could be consulted, and if we could have a vote, an overwhelming majority would sustain the Editor and Publisher in their desire to “allow freedom of speech on all subjects.””

Dutchman. “Who Cares?” The Boston Investigator, 1575 (July 31, 1861): 115. The Dutchman clarifies, “I do not deny the right of Free Speech. I merely suggest that it be not exercised to the hurting of the Infidel organ. . . . I care not if the Investigator overflow with Abolition theories and possibilities, so it be leavened with Infidelity: one will recover one’s lost diamond, be its resting place never so filthy.”

W.J. Boden. “Free Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1578 (Aug. 24, 1861): 137. Boden opines, “Spiritualism, land monopoly, slavery, intemperance, health, and many other topics, are all fraught with interest to all, and ought not to be excluded from the columns of any Liberal paper; and to exclude any or all of these because a few subscribers take offence, and narrow the paper down to mere anti-religious articles having for its object the disproving of pretended divine revelations, would almost entirely destroy its usefulness. Its motto is, “Hear All Sides.” Keep your ship, then, in the old channel; go in for free soil, free men, free speech, free labor, and a free world. Free discussion is the main feature of Infidelity. Those who discard it and show their intolerance by saying “Stop my paper!” are none of us, and are better suited in some bigoted Christian church.”

John Abbott. “The Investigator – Its Editor, &c.” The Boston Investigator, 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 162. Abbott asserts, “the investigation of the Negro question is not compatible with the objects of the Investigator, and all articles on the subject in our paper are as firebrands cast amongst us, which, if persevered in will utterly divide and disintegrate us.”

Charles Edwin. “The War Between the North and the South.” The Boston Investigator, 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 163. Edwin concludes, “Infidels should not be afraid of the issue of this contest, nor afraid to assume the duties of its press. At least one thing is sure – if the Government at Washington is lost, freedom of speech in our country is lost with it for a time, so that in sustaining, as far as we consistently can, that Government, we sustain ourselves.”

“Stop my Paper.” The Boston Investigator, 1581 (Sept. 11, 1861): 165. Here featured is a letter from C.L. Young of Bricksville, Ohio, a subscriber for thirty years and agent for the Investigator. Young requests that his paper be stopped because it is clear to him that the editor considers “that the negro has the same consanguinity and purpose to fulfill as the white race” and that the “South is the guilty party in this war.”

A. Nevens. “Free Speech.” The Boston Investigator, 1583 (Sept. 25, 1861): 179. Nevens advocates refraining from the exercise of free speech on the subject of slavery arguing that, “Our country has been brought to the verge of dissolution by vilifying and heedless epithets and assertions. Slavery is not the great “Bohun-Upas,” but it is the agitation, the meddling, and the “accustomed” meddlers, that has poisoned the country.”

“Replies to Correspondents.” The Boston Investigator, 1592 (Nov. 27, 1861): 230. The editor remarks, “We suppose one reason why some of our subscribers do not like to see abolitionism in the paper is, they think it the main cause of the present civil war, and do not wish to hear any more about it. We don’t blame them. The short-sighted policy, both at the North and South, that has been pursued in regard to slavery, has probably destroyed the republic, and we do not wonder that sensible men are getting tired of the whole subject.”

Alvin High. “Suggestions to Liberals.” The Boston Investigator, 1593 (Dec. 4, 1861): 233. The author begins, “It is with profound regret that I learnt that the struggle that is now going on between Freedom and Slavery (political) and which not only threatens the destruction of our Government, but everything which approximates to republican form of Government in the whole earth – also threatens the perpetuity of that degree of mental liberty which we as American citizens have heretofore enjoyed – the prelude to a night of mental slavery being the probable discontinuance of the Investigator, especially when we know that this bad condition of things was brought about by a relapse of its former supporters into that intolerant bigotry which would break its victims on the rack or burn them at the stake.”

Orson S. Murray. “Will the Investigator abide Investigation?” The Boston Investigator, 1599-1600 (Jan. 15-22, 1862): 282, 290. Murray observes, “The Investigator seems to sympathize with the idea obtruded by some of its correspondents, that Abolitionists better mind their own business, and leave slavery in the care of the South and the Constitution. As if it were not the business of every honest man to oppose slavery in the Constitution or out of it, South or North.”

“Reply.” The Boston Investigator, 1600 (Jan. 22, 1862): 290. The editor replies “Because we do not approve of Abolitionism, as at present managed, and dislike the policy of both North and South in regard to slavery, it hardly follows that we respect that system of oppression, or are opposed to its discussion or removal. . . . if the same moderate course in regard to the evil [slavery] had been pursued that was in vogue sixty or seventy years ago, in all probability the evil would have nearly or entirely ceased, the Union be now intact, and civil war would not be desolating the country.”

T. Jantre. “Extract of a Letter.” The Boston Investigator, 1600 (Jan. 22, 1862): 293. The author believes that “Murray, and the other fanatics associated with him in this movement [abolitionism], are crazy people, and the President couldn’t do a better thing for the country in this crisis, than to ship them all off to Africa in the ‘stone fleet’ and keep them there for the rest of their natural lives. . . . Let there be one journal in whose columns the trail of the black serpent may not be constantly visible, and let Murray and his misguided crew seek a more congenial medium through which to pour their rabid effusions.” To which the editor replies, “As for Abolitionism, though we never thought so much of it as he [Murray] does, yet as we are in favor of free speech, we do not see that we can consistently refuse him a hearing.”

G.E. “The Slave Power.” The Boston Investigator, 1610 (Apr. 2, 1862): 371. The author begins by lamenting the cry from “Infidel” subscribers to stop their paper because they do not wish the question of slavery to be discussed. The author adds, “If we have an “institution” in our country that cannot withstand free discussion, we had better get rid of it as speedily as possible, or else give up the liberty of speech and press, and adopt a controlling despotism.”

Jno. C. Campbell. “The Negro and the War.” The Boston Investigator, 1617 (June 4, 1862): 34. Campbell renews his subscription and explains why he is for the union but not the negro. In a footnote, the editor warns, “unless we can tolerate a difference of opinion without losing our tempers, we are no better in that respect than Christians. . . . If we Infidels cannot boast of much else, let us show that we are in favor of free discussion, and mean to maintain it consistently and at all hazards.”

“Please Discontinue.” The Boston Investigator, 1633 (Sept. 24, 1862): 166. In response to a request that the Investigator be discontinued given its views on slavery, the editor replies that “it surpasses our comprehension how any Infidel . . . . can object to [Thomas Paine’s] self-evident maxim” that, “man has no right to hold property in man.”

“A Free and Independent Press.” The Boston Investigator, 1634 (Oct. 1, 1862): 172. Here featured is a letter from S. Robb in which he asks, “How could a paper, maintaining the freedom of the mind, be favorable to the bondage of the body? The thing is impossible with any degree of consistency. We might just as well talk of the freedom of locomotion with our hands and feet in fetters. Your paper must therefore be an advocate of both physical and mental liberty – not in any party or restricted view, but upon the broad and liberal ground of universal humanity. Who can reasonably object to this? Where is the man who really desires that the only “Infidel paper” in the country should stand upon any other platform?”

“Stop my Paper.” The Boston Investigator, 1680 (Aug. 26, 1863): 125. In a letter to the editor, James Phillips reveals, “I have been a constant subscriber of your journal from its commencement, and should probably have continued so for life, if it had been conducted on first principles – opposition to priestcraft. I have opposed the Christian superstition as worse than useless for forty years, but I believe the combined powers of religion could not have inflicted so great a curse in a thousand years on this country as abolitionists in power have inflicted in the last two years.”

Orson S. Murray. “Two or Three Things.” The Boston Investigator, 1703 (Feb. 3, 1864): 305-06. Murray contends that “all those who are opposed to this discussion [of slavery in the Investigator] are opposed to the abolition of slavery. They don’t want that crime and curse purged from the Constitution and the country. They who don’t want this discussion in the Investigator don’t want it anywhere. They who don’t want it “now,” never have wanted it, at anytime. These are they who impute the war to this discussion- thus virtually conceding that those who began the war began it as a war upon discussion- began it to build up a system that can prosper, can exist, only by suppressing speech, suppressing thought, suppressing in the masses all aspiration to freedom and enjoyment of the rights and immunities of manhood.”