But the platform of principles that was announced by the New England Anti-Slavery Society (the name adopted) in that little grimy schoolroom on “Nigger Hill” was, in at least some respects, a more remarkable document. Its enunciation required an equal degree of physical and moral courage. It was the precursor of a revolution that gave both personal and political freedom to a larger number than were benefited by the other declaration. But what chiefly distinguished it, the time and the situation being considered, was its radical utterance. It gave no countenance to any measure of compromise. It offered no pabulum to the wrongdoer in the form of compensation for stolen humanity. It demanded what was right, and demanded it at once. And that fearless and unyielding platform became the basis for all the Abolition societies that came after it. A goodly number of such societies were organized. “The Anti-Slavery Society for the City of New York” was formed by a few men who met and did their work while a mob was pounding at the door, and who, having completed their task, fled for their lives.
It was at first intended that a national Anti-Slavery society should be established with headquarters in the city of New York, but its proposed organizers discovered that there was not a public hall or church in that city in which they would be permitted to assemble. Philadelphia, with its Quaker contingent, offered a more inviting field, and to that city it was decided to go. But serious obstructions here interposed. Representatives appeared from fourteen States, which was highly encouraging, but no prominent Philadelphian could be found to act as chairman of the meeting. A committee was appointed to secure the services of such a man, but, after interviewing a number of leading citizens, it was compelled to report that it was received by all of them with “polite frigidity.”
Strange to say, the convention was permitted to meet for three days in succession in a public assembly room without interference from a mob. The police, however, warned the participants not to hold night sessions, as they in that case would not promise protection. The good behavior of Philadelphia on this occasion was noteworthy, but it was too good to last. When another Anti-Slavery meeting, not long after, was convened in that city, it was broken up by a mob, and the hall in which it met was burned to the ground.
Finally came the National Anti-Slavery Society, which, in view of its limited financial resources, certainly did a wonderful work. Its publications, in spite of careful watching of the mails and other precautions adopted by the slaveholders, reached all parts of the country, and its preachers, sent out and commissioned to proclaim the new evangel of equal manhood, were absolutely ubiquitous.