During the John Brown excitement Mr. McKim had the privilege of accompanying Mrs. Brown in her melancholy errand to Harper’s Ferry, to take her last leave of her husband before his execution, and to bring away the body. His companions on that painful but memorable journey, were his wife, and Hector Tyndale, Esq., afterwards honorably distinguished in the war as General Tyndale. Returning with the body of the hero and martyr, still in company with Mrs. Brown, Mr. McKim proceeded to North Elba, where he and Wendell Phillips, who had joined him in New York with a few other friends gathered from the neighborhood, assisted in the final obsequies.
When the war broke out, Mr. McKim was one of the first to welcome it as the harbinger of the slave’s deliverance, and the country’s redemption. “A righteous war,” he said, “is better than a corrupt peace. * * * When war can only be averted by consenting to crime, then welcome war with all its calamities.” In the winter of 1862, after the capture of Port Royal, he procured the calling of a public meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia to consider and provide for the wants of the ten thousand slaves who had been suddenly liberated. One of the results of this meeting was the organization of the Philadelphia Port Royal Relief Committee. By request he visited the Sea Islands, accompanied by his daughter, and on his return made a report which served his associates as a basis of operations, and which was republished extensively in this country and abroad.
After the proclamation of emancipation, he advocated an early dissolution of the anti-slavery organization, and at the May Meeting of the American Anti-slavery Society, in 1864, introduced a proposition looking to that result. It was favorably received by Mr. Garrison and others, but no action was taken upon it at that time. When the question came up the following year, the proposition to disband was earnestly supported by Mr. Garrison, Mr. Quincy, Mr. May, Mr. Johnson, and others, but was strongly opposed by Wendell Phillips and his friends, among whom from Philadelphia were Mrs. Mott, Miss Grew, and Robert Purvis, and was decided by a vote in the negative.