“Thy father would not refuse my hospitality.”
That settled the matter, and I accompanied my entertainer to his domicile. I was glad that I did so, as it gave me the opportunity to see and greet Coffin’s wife, who was a charming elderly Quaker lady. She had gained a reputation as a helper of the slave almost equal to that of her husband.
When runaways set out on their venturesome journeys, they were generally very indifferently equipped. Ordinarily they had only the working garments they wore on the plantations, and these furnished but slight relief for a condition very near to nudity. Mrs. Coffin set apart a working room in her house, and there sympathizers of both races joined her in garment-making, the result being that very few fugitives left Cincinnati without being decently clothed.
At the Coffin table were several guests beside myself. One was a colored man. He had been a slave, I learned, but his freedom had been purchased, largely through the Coffins’ efforts.
After I left the Coffin mansion, I remembered my unused letter of introduction, which I had altogether forgotten. It was no longer called for.
ROLLS OF HONOR
The first honors of Abolitionism unquestionably belong to the organizers of the first societies formed for its promotion. The first of these in the order of time was the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which came into being on the first day of January, 1832. William Lloyd Garrison was chief promoter and master spirit. It consisted at the outset of twelve men, and that was not the only evidence of its apostolic mission. It was to be the forerunner in an ever-memorable revolution. The names of the twelve subscribers to its declaration of views and aims will always have a place in American history. They were William Lloyd Garrison, Oliver Johnson, William J. Snelling, John E. Fuller, Moses Thatcher, Stillman E. Newcomb, Arnold Buffum, John B. Hall, Joshua Coffin, Isaac Knapp, Henry K. Stockton, and Benjamin C. Bacon.
As a suggestion from, if not an offshoot of, the New England organization, came the National Anti-Slavery Society, which was organized in Philadelphia in 1834. It was intended that the meeting of its promoters should be held in New York, but so intense was the feeling against the Abolitionists in that city that no suitable room could there be found, and the “conspirators,” as they were called by their enemies, were compelled to seek for accommodation and protection among the Philadelphia Quakers.
In that circumstance there was considerable significance. Two great declarations of independence have issued from Philadelphia. One was for political freedom; the other was for personal freedom. One was for the benefit of its authors as well as of others. The other one was wholly unselfish. Which had the loftier motive?
Ten States were represented in the Philadelphia meeting, which, considering the difficulties incident to travel at that time, was a very creditable showing. One man rode six hundred miles on horseback to attend it.