Some years before the events just spoken of, Townsend had been a medical student in Cincinnati. One day he stepped into the courthouse, where a fugitive-slave case was being tried. There he listened to an argument from Salmon P. Chase, the negro’s defender, that made an Abolitionist of him. The senatorial incident naturally followed.
There was another Ohioan—not an individual this time, but an institution—that will always hold a high place in the annals of Abolitionism. Oberlin College was a power in the land. It had a corps of very able professors who were, without exception, active Anti-Slavery workers. They regarded themselves as public instructors as well as private teachers. There was scarcely a township in Ohio that they did not visit, either personally or through their disciples. They were as ready to talk in country schoolhouses as in their own college halls. Of course, they were violently opposed. Mobs broke up their meetings very frequently, but that only made them more persistent. Their teachings were viciously misrepresented. They were accused of favoring the intermarriage of the races, and parents were warned, if they sent their children to Oberlin, to look out for colored sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. For such slanders, however, the men and women of Oberlin—for both sexes were admitted to faculty and classes—seemed to care no more than they did for pro-slavery mobs.
There is another name which, although it belongs exclusively neither to the East nor to the West, to the North nor to the South, should not be omitted from a record like this. Doctor Gamaliel Bailey resided in the District of Columbia, and issued the National Era from Washington city.
Although a journal of small folio measurement and issued but once a week, it was for a considerable time the most influential organ of the Abolitionists. Its circulation was large and its management very able. Of course, it took no little courage and judgment to conduct such a publication in the very center of slaveholding influence, and more than once it barely escaped destruction by mobs.
If there was nothing else to his credit there was one thing accomplished by the Era’s owner that entitles him to lasting remembrance. He was the introducer, if not the real producer, of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It first appeared in the Era in serial numbers. It is perfectly safe to say that no other newspaper in the country, of any standing, would have touched it. Without Dr. Bailey’s encouragement the work would not have been written. This was admitted by Mrs. Stowe.
Up to this point the people whose names have been mentioned in these pages have, to a certain extent, been public characters and leaders. They were generals, and colonels, and captains, and orderly sergeants, in the army of emancipation. There were, also, privates in the ranks whose services richly deserve to be commemorated, showing, as they do, the character of the works they performed. The writer cannot resist the temptation to refer to two of them in particular, although, doubtless, there were many others of equal merit. A reason for the preference he shows in this case, that will not be misunderstood, is the fact that one of the men was his uncle and the other his father.