He inherited all the bravery of these early pioneers, who left their homes for the sake of religious freedom, the governing principle of his life being a direct antagonism to every form of oppression. Removing in early manhood, to Maryland, where negro Slavery was legally protected, he became one of the most active opponents of the system, being a friend and co-laborer of Elisha Tyson, known and beloved as “Father Tyson,” by all the slaves of the region, and to the community at large, as one of the most philanthropic of men.
While teaching school during the week, as a means of self-education, and reading medicine at night, the young student expended his surplus energy in opening a Sabbath-school for colored persons, teaching them the rudiments of knowledge, not for a few hours only, but for the whole day, and frequently finding as many as ninety pupils collected to receive the inestimable boon which gave them the power of reading the Bible for themselves. To the deeply religious nature of these Africans, this was the one blessing they prized above all others in his power to bestow, and the overflowing gratitude they gave in return, was a memory he cherished to the latest years of his life.
After his graduation in medicine, being at one time called upon to deliver an address before the Medical Society of Baltimore, in the midst of a pro-slavery audience, and before slave-holding professors and men of authority, Dr. Fussell, with a courage scarcely to be comprehended at this late day, denounced “the most preposterous and cruel practice of Slavery, as replete with the causes of disease,” and expressed the hope that the day would come “when Slavery and cruelty should have no abiding place in the whole habitable earth; when the philosopher and the pious Christian could use the salutation of ‘brother,’ and the physician and divine be as one man; when the rich and the poor should know no distinction; the great and the small be equal in dominion, and the arrogant master and his menial slave should make a truce of friendship with each other, all following the same law of reason, all guided by the same light of Truth!”
As a matter of course, a spirit so thoroughly awake to the welfare of humanity, would hail with joy and welcome as a brother, the appearance of such a devoted advocate of freedom, as Benjamin Lundy; and, with all the warmth of his nature, would give love, admiration, and reverence to the later apostle of immediate emancipation, William Lloyd Garrison.
It was one of the pleasures of Dr. Fussell’s life that he had been enabled to take the first number of the “Liberator,” and to continue a subscriber without intermission, until the battle being ended, the last number was announced.
He was himself, one of the most earnest workers in the Anti-slavery cause, never omitting in a fearless manner, to embrace an opportunity to protest against the encouragement of a pro-slavery spirit.