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    Chapter 20

    At Home — Farming — My Promise — Seaman’s Friend Society — Missions — American Tract Society — American Colonization Society — Meeting-House — Religious Revival — Tea and Coffee — Change of Residence — Progress of the Temperance Cause — Progress of the Antislavery Cause — My own Position — Mob in Boston, Mass. — Falling Stars.

    CHAPTER nineteen closed with the account of my last voyage, leaving me in the enjoyment of the blessings of social life on the land, with my family and friends. My sea-faring life was now finished. I once more esteemed it a great privilege to unite with my brethren in the Christian Church. I also gladly re-engaged in the temperance reform with my former associates, who had been progressing in the work during my absence.LELJB 237.1

    My father in his last will requested that I should unite with my mother in the settlement of his estate. Before the year came round, my mother was also removed by death. I now turned my attention to farming, and commmenced improving a small farm which my father had bequeathed to me. Through the aid of an agricultural weekly, called the New England Farmer, for a theory, and with some of my ready cash, I soon made some perceptible alterations on the farm, but with little or no income.LELJB 237.2

    My companion had often said that she wished I had some way to sustain my family by living at home. I promised her that when I had gained a competency by following the sea, then I would relinquish the business and stay on shore. When asked what I considered a competency, I answered, “Ten thousand dollars.” After tasting the sweets of the Christian’s hope, I found it much easier, with all the opening prospects before me, to say where I would stop in this business, if the Lord prospered me.LELJB 238.1

    I now enjoyed the privilege of reading some of the periodicals of the times, especially those on religion and morals. The sailor’s wants were now beginning to be agitated through a periodical called the Sailor’s Magazine. A few friends of the cause came together, and we organized the “Fairhaven Seaman’s Friend Society.” A little pamphlet called “The Missionary Herald,” advocating the cause of foreign missions, also enlisted my feelings, and engaged my attention to some extent. My intercourse with what the “Herald” called the heathen, enabled me to see more clearly their moral and religious wants. I also became much interested in the work of the American Tract Society, which was organized in Boston, Mass., in the year 1814, and was embracing all the evangelical denominations in the United States. I read with pleasure, and helped to circulate many of their tracts on religious subjects and temperance reform; but my interest began to wane when they manifested a determination not to publish any tracts in favor of the down-trodden and oppressed slave in their own land, when they were solicited by antislavery men so to do. It became manifest that their professed unbounded benevolence embraced the whole human race, of all colors and complexions, except those who were suffering under their task-masters, and perishing for lack of religious knowledge within the sound of their voices, in their own churches, and by their firesides. Such inconsistency rests heavily on the managers of the society.LELJB 238.2

    About this time I began also to read the African Repository, the organ of the “American Colonization Society,” organized in the city of Washington, D. C., 1817. The character and tendency of this society was after this fully set forth by Wm. Jay, of New York, in 1835. He says, “Of the seventeen vice-presidents, only five were selected from the free States, while the twelve managers were, it is believed, without one exception, slave-holders. The first two articles of the constitution are the only ones relating to the society. They are as follows:—LELJB 239.1

    “‘Art. I. This society shall be called the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States.LELJB 239.2

    “‘Art. II. The object to which its attention is to be exclusively directed, is to promote and execute a plan for colonizing (with their consent) the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other place as Congress shall deem most expedient. And the society shall act to effect this object in co-operation with the general government, and such of the States as may adopt regulations on the subject. ’”LELJB 239.3

    The subject was new to me, having had but little knowledge of it while following the sea. For awhile it appeared that the movers in this work were honest in their declarations respecting the free people of color, and the abolition of slavery in the Union. But when antislavery societies began, and were being organized, from 1831 to 1834, it became evident that the members of these colonization societies were the worst enemies of the free people of color, and clearly manifest that they labored to perpetuate slavery in the slave-holding States, and manifested the most bitter opposition to antislavery men and measures.LELJB 240.1

    Up to 1832, the Christian Church in Fairhaven, with which I had united, had occupied a rented hall; and they now began to feel the need of having a house of worship of their own in a more convenient place. Four of the brethren united and built one, which was called the Washington-Street Christian meeting-house. Soon after it was finished and dedicated, we commenced a series of religious meetings, in which the Lord graciously answered our prayers, and poured out his Spirit upon us, and many souls were converted. The other churches became zealously affected, and the work of God spread throughout the village. For many weeks in succession the church-bells were ringing, morning, afternoon, and evening, for preaching and social meetings. It was thought by those who spoke of it that the whole population of the unconverted were under the deep movings of God’s Holy Spirit.LELJB 240.2

    Our village had been blessed with several revivals before, but I was from home, except during two, the last of which I have just mentioned. The first one was in the year 1807, when the people were immersed in the love and pleasures of the world, and the pride of life. The work was wonderful to them, and altogether unexpected. Although we had a stated ministry and regular preaching, it was ascertained that there were but two family altars in the place, viz., at Mr. J. ’s and at my father’s. I remember that I felt deeply interested in that work, and loved to attend their prayer-meetings, and I have often thought that the Lord at that time forgave my sins, but I, like too many other youth, neglected to tell my feelings to my parents, or any one, feeling that religion was for older ones than myself; and before the revival wholly subsided, my mind was occupied in preparing for my first European voyage.LELJB 241.1

    From the year 1824, when I made my covenant with God, I had lived up to the principles of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, but had continued the use of tea and coffee, without much conviction about their poisonous and stimulating effects, for about seven years longer. With my small stock of knowledge on the subject, I was unwilling to be fairly convicted that these stimulants had any effect on me, until on a social visit with my wife at one of our neighbor’s, where tea was served us somewhat stronger than our usual habit of drinking. It had such an effect on my whole system that I could not rest nor sleep until after midnight. I then became fully satisfied (and have never seen cause to change my belief since) that it was the tea I drank which so affected me. From thence I became convicted of its intoxicating qualities, and discarded the use of it.LELJB 241.2

    Soon after this, on the same principle, I discarded the use of coffee, so that now [1866] it is about thirty years since I have allowed myself knowingly to taste of either. If the reader should ask how much I have gained in this matter, I answer that my health is better, my mind is clearer, and my conscience in this respect is void of offense. Sylvester Graham, in his “Lectures on the Science of Human Life,” says: “There is no truth in science more fully ascertained than that both tea and coffee are among the most powerful poisons of the vegetable kingdom.”LELJB 242.1

    Tea is spoken of in the Transylvania Journal of Medicine as an anodyne, in some cases as truly so as opium. The Encyclopedia Americana says: “The effects of tea on the human system are those of a very mild narcotic, and, like those of any other narcotic, when taken in small quantities, exhilarating.” Dr. Combe, in his valuable work on digestion and dietetics, observes that “when made very strong, or taken in large quantities, especially late in the evening, they [tea and coffee] not only ruin the stomach, but very seriously derange the health of the brain and nervous system.”LELJB 242.2

    I sold my place of residence in the year 1831, and was occupied much of the time in 1832 in locating my dwelling-house and outbuildings on my little farm, and was also associated with three of my Christian friends in building the Washington-Street meeting-house. In 1831 it was stated that three thousand temperance societies were organized in the United States, with three hundred thousand members. (See “Haskell’s Chronological View of the World,” p. 247.) Thus in four years-or from 1827-temperance societies had progressed from our small beginning in Fairhaven. Many ships were also adopting the temperance reform.LELJB 242.3

    About the close of 1831, and commencement of 1832, antislavery societies began to be organized again in the United States, advocating immediate emancipation. As the work progressed, antislavery advocates were maltreated and mobbed in many places where they attempted to organize or hold meetings to plead for the poor, oppressed slaves in our land. Colonization societies and their advocates were foremost in this shameful work, as any one may learn by reading William Jay’s “Inquiry into their Character and Tendency.” All their declarations of benevolence for the free people of color, and ardent desire to benefit the poor, oppressed slaves, and finally save our country from the curse of slavery, vanished like the morning cloud and early dew when reading of their disgraceful acts of violence in the city of New York and other places, to shut out the pleadings of humanity for the down-trodden and oppressed slave. The New York Commercial Advertiser and Courier and Enquirer were then among the best friends of colonization and slaveholding.LELJB 243.1

    I then began to feel the importance of taking a decided stand on the side of the oppressed. My labor in the cause of temperance had caused a pretty thorough sifting of my friends, and I felt that I had no more that I wished to part with; but duty was clear that I could not be a consistent Christian if I stood on the side of the oppressor, for God was not there. Neither could I claim his promises if I stood on neutral ground. Hence, my only alternative was to plead for the slave, and thus I decided.LELJB 243.2

    In our religious meetings we talked and prayed, remembering “them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” Hebrews 13. Some were offended, and some feared disunion. Notwithstanding the conflicting views and feelings in our midst, there were some in the churches who held to the principles of antislavery. And as the work advanced during the years 1832 to 1835, in which there was much contention from all quarters of the Union about this matter, a call was made for a meeting, in which about forty citizens of Fairhaven came together and organized the Fairhaven Antislavery Society, auxiliary to the New England Antislavery Society. This drew down the wrath of a certain class of our neighbors, who also called opposition meetings, in which they passed resolutions denouncing us in very severe terms; not for the principles which we had adopted in our constitution did they do this, for they were not contrary to the constitution of the United States; but because we had united together to plead for the abolition of American slavery, which they declared unconstitutional and very unpopular. Threats were often made that our meetings would be broken up, etc., but fortunately we were left to go onward.LELJB 244.1

    One of our members, on going to Charleston, South Carolina, was arraigned before the authorities of the city, charged with being a member of the Fairhaven Antislavery Society. To save himself from being dealt with in their way, as he afterward declared, he renounced his abolitionism. But opposition was more clearly manifest in the North, where societies were continually organizing, than in the South.LELJB 244.2

    William Lloyd Garrison, editor of an antislavery paper called The Liberator, published in Boston, Mass., was heralded in many of the periodicals of that time (1835) as a most notorious abolitionist. Rewards, some as high, I think, as fifty thousand dollars, were offered for his head! The citizens of Boston, in and about Washington Street and vicinity, where the antislavery meetings were held, became most furiously excited, and assembled on a certain afternoon around the building which they learned he occupied, and pursued him to a carpenter’s shop, where he had fled from them, and brought him forth to the assembled multitude in the street, and placed a rope around his neck, to put an end to his life. Some of his friends, who were watching their movements, seeing his imminent danger, rushed around him, assuming in the confusion to engage with them, by laying hold of the rope so as to keep it from tightening around his neck, while some of the mob held the other end of the rope, and all rushed furiously, with hallooing and shouting, along the street, leaving the great body of the assembled multitude of “gentlemen of property and standing,“ listening with breathless anxiety to learn what was being done with their victim. Meantime the mob and Mr. Garrison’s friends had continued running on unrestrained, until they found themselves at the portals of Leverett-Street jail. Once there, by some measures of his friends, the jail was opened, and Mr. Garrison, to the astonishment of his wicked persecutors, was placed out of their reach; nor would the jailer bring him forth without orders from the law-abiding officers. As soon as the storm abated, Mr. G. was honorably released, and resumed his position, again pleading for the abolition of American slavery. The proslavery papers of Boston, in attempting to remove the stain and disgrace of this uncivilized work from the capital of the pilgrims, and a portion of its citizens, labored hard to prevent its being recorded as the work of a mob, and they declared that the people assembled on that occasion were “gentlemen of property and standing.”LELJB 245.1

    Previous to the foregoing occurrence, and while the subjects of antislavery and proslavery were agitating the Union, a wonderful phenomenon occurred in the heavens, which caused consternation and dismay among the people, namely, the stars falling from heaven! Many watchmen in the cities, and sailors in their night-watches on the ocean, together with those that were up, and their friends whom they called up to witness the exhibition of the falling stars, were now relating what they had witnessed, as were also the newspapers of the times.LELJB 246.1

    I will here give a few extracts. First from the New York Journal of Commerce, November 15, 1833: Henry Dana Ward, in closing up his account of this thrilling scene (which has been so often republished), says:—LELJB 246.2

    “We asked the watchman how long this had been. He said, ‘About four o’clock it was the thickest.’ We gazed until the rising sun put out the lesser falling stars with the lesser fixed stars, and until the morning star stood alone in the east, to introduce the bright orb of day. And here take the remark of one of my friends in mercantile life, who is as well informed in polite learning as most intelligent merchants of our city who have not made science their study. Sitting down to breakfast we spoke of the scene, and he said, ‘I kept my eyes fixed on the morning star. I thought while that stood firm we were safe; but I feared every moment that it would go and all would go with it.’ The reader will see that this remark proceeded from an almost irresistible impression of an intelligent eye-witness, that the firmament had given way, that the whole host of stars had broken up, yet hope clung to the morning star, which never shone more glorious.”LELJB 246.3

    In a subsequent statement, he adds:—LELJB 247.1

    “The dawn was a full hour, that morning, earlier than usual, and the whole eastern sky was transparent like molten glass, so as I never witnessed before nor since. An open arch of brilliant light arose from the east, above which arch stood the morning star, inexpressibly glorious for its brilliance and firmness on the face of the dark, transparent, and bursting firmament.”LELJB 247.2

    From the Baltimore Patriot:—LELJB 247.3

    “Being up this morning (November 13, 1833), I witnessed one of the most grand and alarming spectacles which ever beamed upon the eye of man. The light in my room was so great that I could see the hour of the morning by my watch which hung over my mantel, and supposing there was a fire near at hand, probably on my own premises, I sprung to the window, and behold, the stars, or some other bodies presenting a fiery appearance, were descending in torrents as rapid and as numerous as I ever saw flakes of snow or drops of rain in the midst of a storm.”LELJB 247.4

    From the Christian Advocate and Journal, December 13, 1833:—LELJB 248.1

    “The meteoric phenomenon which occurred on the morning of the 13th of November last, was of so extraordinary and interesting a character as to be entitled to more than a passing notice. The lively and graphic descriptions which have appeared in various public journals, do not exceed the reality. No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that magnificent display. I hesitate not to say that no one who did not witness it can form an adequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starry heavens had congregated at one point, near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to every part of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted-thousands swiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for the occasion, and illuminated the firmament with lines of irradiating light.”LELJB 248.2

    The Commercial Observer, of Nov. 25, 1833, copied from the Old Countryman, reads as follows:—LELJB 248.3

    “We pronounce the raining of fire which we saw on Wednesday morning last, an awful type, a sure forerunner, a merciful sign, of that great day which the inhabitants of the earth will witness when the sixth seal will be opened. The time is just at hand, described, not only in the New Testament, but in the Old. A more correct picture of a fig-tree casting its leaves (or green figs), when blown by a mighty wind, it is not possible to behold.”LELJB 248.4

    Extracts from the People’s Magazine, Boston, Jan., 1834, on the falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833:—LELJB 249.1

    “The Rockingham (Va.) Register” calls it a “rain of fire”—“thousands of stars being seen at once.” Some said, “It began with a considerable noise.”LELJB 249.2

    The Lancaster (Pa.) Examiner says:—LELJB 249.3

    “The air was filled with innumerable meteors or stars.... Hundreds of thousands of brilliant bodies might be seen falling at every moment, .... sloping their descent toward the earth, at an angle of about forty-five degrees, resembling flashes of fire.”LELJB 249.4

    The Salem Register speaks of their being seen “in Mocha, on the Red Sea.”LELJB 249.5

    The Journal of Commerce informs us that “three hundred miles this side of Liverpool, the phenomenon was as splendid as here,” and that in St. Lawrence County, “there was a snow-storm during the phenomenon, in which the falling stars appeared like lightning;” .... that in Germantown, Pa., “they seemed like showers of great hail.”LELJB 249.6

    The captain of a New Bedford whale ship, one of my acquaintances, says, “While lying at anchor that night on the coast of California, in the Pacific Ocean, I saw the stars falling all around me.”LELJB 249.7

    Prof. Olmstead, of Yale College, says:—LELJB 249.8

    “The extent of the shower of 1833 was such as to cover no inconsiderable part of the earth’s surface, from the middle of the Atlantic on the east to the Pacific on the west; and from the northern coast of South America to undefined regions among the British Possessions on the north, the exhibition was visible, and everywhere presented nearly the same appearance. Those who were so fortunate as to witness the exhibition of shooting stars on the morning of Nov. 13, 1833, probably saw the greatest display of celestial fireworks that has ever been seen since the creation of the world.”LELJB 249.9

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