About three years ago, Samuel D. Burris died, in the city of San Francisco, at about the age of sixty years. To the slave he had been a true friend, and had labored faithfully for the improvement of his own mind as well as the general elevation of his race.
Near Kimberton, in Chester county, Pa., was the birth-place, and, till within a few years, the home of three sisters, Mariann, Grace Anna and Elizabeth R. Lewis, who were among the most faithful, devoted, and quietly efficient workers in the Anti-slavery cause, including that department of it which is the subject of this volume.
Birth-right members of the Society of Friends, they were born into more than the traditional Anti-slavery faith and feeling of that Society. A deep abhorrence of slavery, and an earnest will to put that feeling into act, as opportunity should serve, were in the very life-blood which they drew from father and mother both.
Left fatherless at an early age, they were taught by their mother to remember that their father, on his visits to their maternal grandfather, living then in Maryland, was wont, as he expressed it, to feel the black shadow of slavery over his spirit, from the time he entered, till he left, the State; and that, on his death-bed, he had regretted having let ill-health prevent his meeting with, and joining one of the Anti-slavery Societies of that day. Of the mother’s share in the transmission of their hereditary feeling, it is enough, to all acquainted with the history of Anti-slavery work in Pennsylvania, to say that she was sister, not by blood alone, but in heart and soul, to that early, active, untiring abolitionist, Dr. Bartholomew Fussell.
It is easy to see that the children of such parents, growing up under the influence of such a mother, needed no conversion, no sacrifices of prejudice or hostile opinions, to make them Anti-slavery; but were ready, simply as a matter of course, to work for the good cause whenever any way appeared in which their work could serve it. What was called “modern abolitionism,” as distinguished from the less aggressive form of opposition to slavery, which preceded the movement pioneered by Garrison, they at once accepted, as soon as it was set before them, through the agents of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in the campaign in Pennsylvania, begun in 1836. Regarding it but as the next step forward in the way they had already entered, they instinctively fell into line with the new movement, assisted in forming a society auxiliary to it, in their own neighborhood, and were constant to the end in working for its advancement.
[Illustration: GRACE ANNE LEWIS]
[Illustration: MRS. FRANCIS E. W. HARPER]
[Illustration: JOHN NEEDLES.]