Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small]

THE ORIGIN OF THE FREED-MEN'S AID SOCIETY.

BY THE EDITOR. In presenting to our readers the First Number of “The Freed-Man,” it will be felt, we think, by a very large and influential party of philanthropists, that we are meeting a want universally felt by the friends of the freed slave in this country. The Magazine in the reader's hand has been called into existence under the following circumstances. From various parts of the country the enquiry had been transmitted to the metropolis, whether it was intended to publish a cheap periodical to serve as a medium for communication between the friends of the Freed-men at this momentous period of the Freed-man's history. Amongst those best informed as to the practical means to be taken to submit the claims of the perishing millions to the Christian charities of the people of the three kingdoms, there was no difference of opinion as to the need of the immediate appearance of such a Magazine as this. Some gentlemen in London determined to commence the matter as a private undertaking, and a gentleman having had long connexion with the press, both at home and abroad, was solicited to conduct the proposed periodical. It was felt however to be very desirable to obtain the sanction of the Freed-Men's Aid Society, under the able presidency of Sir T. F. Buxton, Bart., M.P. This was deemed to be important, inasmuch as this Society has claims to general regard which none other can possess. It is presided over by a gentleman who possesses an historic

More than that, Sir T. F. Buxton feels the deepest interest in the work, and is moved by the most sincere desire to promote the interests of the Four Millions of Freed-men whose claims we advocate, and for the sad necessities of whom we are for a time to plead. When applied to in the first instance, now between two and three years ago, as to the formation of a Society for the aid of the panting and dying fugitives from Slavery, Sir Fowell entered at once cordially into the proposal. It was at first suggested to form only a female association; but the President of the Freed-Men's Aid Society promptly and energetically said “No-we will have a Society in which men shall take

That Society was formed, and it made its debut at St. James's Hall, at a public meeting which must be memorable in the history of this movement, under the auspices of the Buxtons, the Hugheses, the Ludlows, and

name.

their part.”

the Thompsons, of the metropolis. The Rev. John Curwen was appointed the Secretary, and, as long as his other important engagements would permit, devoted himself entirely to the interest of the Freed-Men's Aid Society. Circulars and appeals were sent by thousands throughout the entire country. The results anticipated were thought not to be fully realized; but such was not the case. Many who did not respond at the time were deeply affected by the case as then presented, and treasured up the facts communicated in their hearts, to use at another time. Many to whom the first appeal was addressed, who did not then respond, are now among the most active and munificent supporters of the work in the whole kingdom. We ourselves at the time were so deeply engaged on the more general question of the American war, that we had not time to respond in any way to the able appeal then made. Time rolled on, till at length that remarkable man, Levi Coffin, came to this country. He came not to beg, but to tell the tale of human sorrow and suffering that had befallen at that time only the thousands—now they are millions of the exodus from bondage. He brought letters of introduction from well-known American writers and preachers to a gentleman who had identified his name with the party of freedom in America, and to a well-known and highly esteemed minister in the Society of Friends. It was two gentlemen-one residing in Lincoln's Inn, and the other in the Temple—that united on this occasion to invite a number of leading and benevolent gentlemen to meet Mr. Coffin at the house of Dr. Hodgkin, in Bedford Square. About seventy invitations were issued. Strange to say, for a London meeting in the midst of summer, almost that number attended. Mr. Coffin's testimonials were examined and approved. He told his tale simply, but well. Several members of Parliament, who were present, spoke approvingly, when it was proposed to make further efforts on behalf of the freed slaves of the Southern States. Among those who spoke may be mentioned Mr. Bright, Mr. Gurney, and Mr. W. E. Forster. A committee was formed, when Dr. Frederick Tomkins and F. W. Chesson, Esq., were appointed Honorary Secretaries. The former gentleman, by his long residence in America, and his personal acquaintance with slavery, his having been present at the time of the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, and his familiarity with American parties and politics, as well as by the deep and lifelong interest he had taken in the coloured race, was deemed peculiarly qualified by the friends of the movement to take an active part in it.

Through the kindness of Samuel Gurney, Esq., M.P., a second meeting was called at his own private residence, at Prince's Gate, Hyde Park. There were present at this meeting a large number of noblemen, members of Parliament, and leading ministers of the various denominations of Christians. Levi Coffin again told his simple story of wrong and suffering. At his recital all present were deeply affected. An impressive speech was also pronounced by Charles Buxton, Esq., M. P. A number of ministers and gentlemen addressed the meeting, and the coloured African Episcopal Bishop closed it with prayer. Dr. Frederick Tomkins had previously put himself in communication with the Secretary of the Freed-men's Aid Society--the Rev. John Curwen—who was also present at this meeting, when, upon the proposal of Dr. F. Tomkins, a union was effected between the newly formed committee above referred to and the Freed-men's Aid Society; or, to speak more correctly, the entire committee appointed at Dr. Hodgkin's was merged into the committee of the Freed-men's Aid Society. The meeting at Mr. Gurney's formed an epoch in the history of the Society. An Address was issued and circulated throughout the country; Levi Coffin, Dr. F. Tomkins, and Dr. Massie visited all the great centres of the three kingdoms ; they were met by no opposition, but by many kind and hearty supporters. Almost twenty auxiliaries were formed, and others were stimulated to commence their labours on behalf of the suffering and perishing freed negroes

of America. One of the active members of the Freed-men's Aid Society, acting on behalf of the Society, visited the United States and inspected the actual condition of tens of thousands of the coloured people in the camps, in the field, and in the schools. These facts were communicated to a London journal and to a leading journal in one of the largest provincial towns. An increased interest was excited. As new helpers came up “to the help of the Lord against the mighty,” new organizations arose, until recently the National Committee has been formed. The same body of friends to the freed-manhappily strengthened and increased—that commenced the work in the Metropolis now present to you “ The Freed-man.” The Freed-men's Aid Societya name known throughout the three kingdoms - felt it to be its bounden duty, however much toil it might involve, to undertake the conduct of this Magazine. Its pages are open to correspondents who may choose to avail themselves of it as a means of communication, whether they reside in America or in our own loved home. The desire felt for such an organ in the country, the fact that more than one gentleman was prepared to start it as a private undertaking, and that it has been entered upon with the hearty and unanimous consent of the Committee of the Freed-men's Aid Society, seem to leave nothing further to be desired as far as the commencement of the undertaking is concerned. The friends of the cause are requested to communicate their ideas freely and, our limits compel us to say, concisely. You will not only help us, but you will help the perishing by aiding our circulation.

At the meeting at Dr. Hodgkin's, little more than a year ago, we started to raise ten thousand pounds. We have more than quadrupled that sum; and now we start for a quarter of a million. The cause requires it-loving gratitude to America demands it.

THE BOSTON CONVENTION.

BY DR. FRED. TOMKINS. THERE has just assembled in the city of Boston one of the most important gatherings that New England has witnessed for many a day: The Convention of Congregational Ministers and Delegates from various parts of the Northern, Middle, and Western States of America. The Convention is much more than a gathering of pastors and leading members of the Congregational body. If it were only this, it would be of special interest to the Independents of England; but would not merit special notice in connexion with the Freed people of the Southern States. The fact is, the leading minds of the Northern States are determined to carry out what they denominate the New England principle in the South. It may be asked what are we to understand by the New England principle ? The answer is simple and obvious. Responsible Government, Free Churches, Free Press, and Free Schools. New England men do not intend that the dreary spiritual, mental, and moral darkness of the South shall any longer continue. Hitherto they have never been able to plant their churches, their schools, and their presses in the South. They were able to send Dr. Judson to Burmah, David Brainard, at an earlier period, to the Indians, Dr. Armstrong to the South Seas, Dr. Bliss to Syria, and a host of others to every imaginable spot in the world, almost without let or hindrance of any kind. But Southern intolerance, and the just dread that Northern principles reduced to that practice which Northern men know how to adapt and work so well, made the Southern mind resolve to keep the Apostles of New England at bay. Taking but a limited view of things, they acted wisely. Taking a larger view, they acted with the most consummate folly. It is said that Jefferson Davis used to stand, when arrivals came at his landing-place, and with a stick in his hand, with a stern countenance and a harsh voice-like Clearchus, of whom Xenophon mentions similar things—warned every Northern man not to defile by his presence and his tread the sacred soil of the South. “Noli me tangere,” ye Northern Demagogues and Puritans, was the fallen rebel chieftain's motto. This, indeed is scarcely a phrase strong enough; for not only did he say “Hands off” the institution—the domestic institution which I am at all hazards resolved to defend—but “Feet off” the soil where I command. No policy seemed more natural and proper for the defence of Southern rights of property; or, to speak in plain English, and without an euphemism--of Slavery. What Jeff. Davis did on the rich soil of his muddy bend in the Mississippi, is a type of what the whole South did. “At no time during the last twenty years dare I,” said Mr. Beecher to the writer, “have gone South.” A number of rowdies were always on hand ready, for a “mint julep” or a “gin sling," to do any rough business for the Southern chivalry. Such a state of things, like some unobserved cause beneath the skin, produced irritation, inflammation, and at last a foul fester, corrupting like a very gangrene the whole body of the South. The moral disorder became propagated by metastasis. To the parts

« PředchozíPokračovat »