« AnteriorContinuar »
FREEDMEN'S AID SOCIETY AND ITS REPRE
SENTATIVES AND SUPPORTERS.
To the Editor of the Gazette. SIR,—In Covington, Kentucky, a small town across the river Cincinnati, there lives a slave whom we will call Levi Coffin ; and in Cincinnati a gentleman, bearing the name of Joseph Sturge, distinguished for his practical benevolence and supreme regard for the rights of men. Joseph hears that Levi is hard worked, has scanty fare, and is sometimes roughly used. He is moved with compassion towards Levi, tries to make his acquaintance, and discovering that Levi would prefer to have his liberty with his wife and family, and enjoy the fruit of his hard earned toils, Mr. Sturge says to him, Levi, arise, and bring thy wife and children, and follow me; and as there has been hitherto no security for the fugitive slave in our Free States, so called, away they go towads Canada, and on reaching the Queen's dominions, Levi with his wife and family embrace their benefactor, thank him for his gracious interposition, and then send up their incense of praise towards God for sending them such a bright angel of mercy as Joseph Sturge, who has delivered them from a bondage full of unutterable woe and terror; but if Joseph Sturge was the slave, and Levi Coffin was to be the benefactor and deliverer although he “has always taken it for granted that every body had a right to liberty who had not forfeited it by crime ; yet it was no part of his business to interfere with what was law in the Slave States, or to incite or assist any slaves to make their escape;" therefore the slave Joseph Sturge with his wife and family would have all their hopes coffined and consigned to the tomb, so far as Levi Coffin is concerned, except they made their way of their own accord in disguise over the ferry, or piloted their course in some boat over the river, and gave a loud thundering knock at Coffin's door. In such a case Coffin would receive and entertain Joseph Sturge with his wife and family and give them a helping hand. Hear him. In his statement made at the meeting held at Mrs. Sturge's, he said, “he often told slaveholders that it was no part of his business to interfere with slaves on their estates; but that if a slave had run away, and he found him needing assistance, he would help him," and "on the same principle,” continued Levi, “he would feed the slaveholders if they came to him hungry; but that he would not help in the capture of escaped slaves." A number of slaves find their way to Coffin's house, obtain relief, and set out on their perilous journey to the land of freedom. As soon as they have gone, the marshal and a number of slaveholders come to his door, and ask to see Mr. Coffin ; on presenting himself, they tell him that they have been making an exciting chase after a number of fugitive slaves, who have eluded their grasp, and baffled them in their efforts to arrest them, and then avow that they are fatigued and very hungry. In such a case are we to understand from Mr. Coffin that he would say to them come in, make yourselves welcome at my table, and take refreshing repose under my roof ?”
Mark Mr. Coffin's words, “ on the same principle he would feed the slaveholders if they came to him hungry,” or “needing assistance.” Many slaveholders would be glad of his bread and cheese to satisfy their hunger, renew their strength, that they might make more strenuous efforts to capture fleeing bondmen. By relieving them in such a case, would he not be helping them to capture slaves, although he was personally to refuse to go forth with the man-hunters to aid them in their wicked calling? If so, what is there distinctively anti-slavery in his aid given to escaped slaves, adapted to call forth our admiration or esteem, or to place him before us as a model for imitation ?
In regard to the institution represented by Mr. Coffin, great care has been taken to assure us that “tools of every description as well as donations will be doubly welcome and very thankfully received;” and “there can be no doubt say its agents and supporters, “that the articles contributed will have the duties remitted by government.” Why not? Surely there can be no misgiving in such a case when the eagles of the Federal government, such as Chase and C. F. Adams appear on the scene with open bills, spreading wings, and outstretched talons. Oh! no, there will be no Custom House obstruction to such a work of benevolence as the above.
Directions have also been given that “care should be taken that the goods are specially adapted for the use of negroes, or for sale.” The use of negroes. Where? On the plantations of Louisiana, under the new code of laws, adopted and enforced by General Banks and his subordinates? If the response comes “no, not for men in serfdom.” Then are they for the negroes collected in the camps formed on the banks of the Mississippi? Of what earthly use can implements of industry be there, when the able-bodied are taken for service in the army? Or for sale. This is very significant, and will not escape notice, for our American people are fond of having a little ready cash, which will be very acceptable just now that we are so uncomfortably nearing the rapids which are to float us into the depths of bankruptcy; therefore, throw in your rings and brooches, necklaces and ear-rings, anything which is convertible into gold. Motives are also suggested, “as millions have gained their liberty," shouts one of the Committee; “but four thousand have already perished from actual want of food, shelter, and raiment." Millions are immense numbers. Now, if all the able-bodied are taken out of those millions of freed slaves and put into our Federal armies, there can be no lack of fighting men on the part of the North ; and it must be very stupid of General Grant to stand still, or to be blocked fast with his “swamp angels” before Petersburgh; or for the administration journals to insist that Grant must be heavily reinforced before he again ventures to advance? Surely the telegram brought by the North American, July 1st, must be untrue; or else there must be a screw loose in the member of the committee referred to; but, however we may doubt the realization of the former part of the paragraph under consideration, we need not wonder that four thousand of these unfortunate people should die from actual want of food, shelter, and raiment in connection with such an arrangement or provision as that which is made for them by our Federal government. In the one case, such an arrangement might create a great many “war boys” for General Lee to kill; and, in the other, for famine and pestilence to destroy.
“The most valued and benevolent fellow-townsman referred to by Edward Gem, Esq., says, “ to my mind, this exodus from slavery is an event so awful in itself, and, I trust, I may not be presumptuous to say, so grand an evidence of the hand of God in bringing good out of evil, that I am impressed with humble thankfulness in being able and privileged to give some small help.”
It is an old adage, that “when rogues fal out, honest men get their own;" but what enlightened man can give his sympathies or practical aid to