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PROCEEDINGS OF THE ANTI-SLAVERY CONVENTION

Held at Upper Alton, May 5, 1847

Source: Alton Telegraph, May 14, 1847

 

The above pictured token was distributed by anti-slavery circles in 1838, and reads

"Am I Not a Woman and a Sister," and depicts an enslaved woman kneeling in chains.

 

 

The convention met at 10 o'clock a.m., pursuant to notice. The meeting was called to order by one of the Notifying Committee, and opened with prayer by the Rev. Hubbell Loomis. The following persons appeared:

Rev. Hubbell Loomis, Rev. T. B. Hurlbut, Rev. Lemuel Foster, and Major C. W. Hunter of Upper Alton.

Messrs.B. Viall, ____ Proctor, John R. Woods, and Jesse Walton of Alton city.

Also, the following Delegates:

Messrs. Isaac Snedeker and George W. Burke of Jersey County.

Messrs. John Viall, T. A. Brown, and _____Meacham of Macoupin County.

Mr. J. McNell of Randolph County.

On motion, Major C. W. Hunter was elected President of the Convention, and Jesse Walton, Clerk. A business committee was then appointed, consisting of Messrs. Loomis, Foster, and B. Viall, to prepare the necessary documents for forming, agreeably to the call, an Anti-Slavery Association.

 

After some time for retirement and deliberation, the committee reported several different papers, containing different forms for an Association, with different phraseology to specify its object. In selecting from these, an animated discussion arose, with respect to the manner of expressing the object of the society, and means for securing it; in the midst of which the Convention took a recess for dinner, until 2 o'clock p.m.

 

After recess, others appeared in Convention, viz.:

Hon. Cyrus Edwards, Dr. John James, Rev. Mr. Dennison, Messrs, Elias Hibbard and John Bates of Upper Alton.

Rev. A. T. Norton and Mr. Richard Sanderson of Alton city.

A letter was read from the Rev. Mr. Palmer of Jersey county, expressing his regret at not being able to be present, and the importance of adhering to the principles of the Bible in the anti-slavery reform. The discussion above mentioned was then resumed, and continued for a time with much interest; when the following Preamble and Constitution was adopted:

PREAMBLE

We, the undersigned, in order for combined and efficient action, in behalf of the just and equal and inalienable right of man, as laid down in the Word of God, and our Declaration of Independence; do form ourselves into an Association under the following:

 

CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE 1

This Association shall be called, "The Madison County Anti-Slavery Society."

 

ARTICLE 2

The object of this society shall be, the extinction of slavery in our land and nation; by exhibiting clearly, boldly and faithfully, but with kindness and love, its inherent guilt and opposition to God's Word; the fearful havoc it makes with all the moral relations of the enslaved; its destructive tendency in our government; the pecuniary ruin which attends it; and the divine wrath which it incurs; and by employing against it all those means and efforts, and all that influence, which, as lovers of our fellow men, as freemen, and as Christians, we are enabled to employ, and are bound in duty to use.

 

ARTICLE 3

Any person who is willing to co-operate in the above object, shall, on signing this Constitution, be a member of this society.

 

ARTICLE 4

The society shall hold an annual meeting at such time and place as it shall appoint; and also other meetings, from time to time, as the cause demands; either fixed upon by itself, or called by its officers.

 

ARTICLE 5

The officers of the society shall be a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Recording and Corresponding Secretary, and a Treasurer, elected annually, and who shall perform the usual duties of such officers, and hold their places until others are chosen in their room.

 

ARTICLE 6

The above officers shall together constitute an executive board, which shall act for the society in the interval of its meetings, guide in carrying out its plans and efforts, call extra meetings of the society if necessary, &c., and any three of them shall constitute a quorum for business.

 

ARTICLE 7

The above Board shall have power to fill its own vacancies occurring in the interval of the society's annual meetings.

 

ARTICLE 8

Any expenses which it may be necessary to incur, shall be incurred by the direction of the society itself, and not of the board.

 

ARTICLE 9

The meetings of the society shall be opened and adjourned with prayer to Almighty God, for divine aid and guidance; when singing and reading a portion of God's word, shall also be regarded as appropriate.

 

ARTICLE 10

This Constitution may be altered at any annual meeting of the society by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.

The Society then proceeded to the election of its officers; when Major C. W. Hunter was chosen President, and Dr. T. A. Brown of Brighton and Dr. J. Knapp of Alton, Vice-Presidents. Rev. L. Foster of Upper Alton was chosen Corresponding Secretary, and Jesse Walton of Alton, Treasurer and Depositary. A proposition for co-operation being made by Bro. McNeil of Randolph County on motion, it was

 

Resolved, That this society co-operate with the anti-slavery body in Randolph County, in obtaining lecturers, and in holding a mass meeting, during the coming fall, at Eden in that county; the time being previously made known through the public press.

 

On motion, voted to meet at the call of executive board; when the society adjourned with prayer.

 

Jesse Walton, clerk

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ANTI-SLAVERY CONVENTION EXPLANATION

Source: Alton Telegraph, June 4, 1847

Mr. Editor: In your paper of May 21st, I find no article or two relative to the above meeting, which demand some explanation. Duly appreciating your courtesy on like occasions, we trust you will afford us the opportunity to give it. One gentleman protests against such liberties being taken with his name as to insert it in the proceedings of the meeting; another observes he was only present as a spectator. Now, sir, it should be understood that the meeting was called by a published circular, "as an Anti-Slavery Convention to consider the propriety of forming an Anti-Slavery Association for Madison County." One of the circulars I had the pleasure of addressing to my honorable and much esteemed friend, whose name appears in your paper.

 

All was open, frank, and friendly; the object of the meeting was well understood. At the opening of the afternoon session, the names of the delegates were called for, when the Clerk entered the names from other counties, &c.  None from the two Altons were appointed delegates, and did not, of course, give in their names. Was it proper to make invidious distinction? No sir. We stated with reference to these what was the fact - that they appeared in Convention. The delegates gave in their names as such. We were glad to see others, and we presume none were ashamed of being there. But the "friend of the poor negroes," who wished to have it implied that he just slipped in by accident - almost didn't mean to do it (as the boy said) - "was passing by, just as the last peal of the tolling bell was sounding, and turned in a mement to see and hear." Well, Mr. Editor, he did hear an interesting discussion of more than two hours, and then listened to an address of nearly an hour - although he "just turned in for a moment." how shall we account for his discrepancy, but by inferring that he was a deeply interested in the meeting that he really thought a period of three hours was "just a moment?" As for his stale flings and perversions, about Abolition Societies and Abolitionists, he is behind the times, and will not gain credit; and I will not ask space farther to notice them. So we'll stop and leave another part of the explanation to the person denominated by him as "one of the head men." I consider myself only as one in the ranks.  Charles W. Hunter.

********************************

 

A REPLY TO MAJOR CHARLES W. HUNTER

Source: Alton Telegraph, June 18, 1847

In relation to the communication from Charles W. Hunter, Esq., I have but little to say. The "two hours interesting discussion," which the Major says I listened to, consisted mainly in reading the Constitution of an Abolition Society, which they seemed desirous of "getting up" in this county, about seven times over, with an elaborate exposition of the meaning of every clause, as often repeated, by one of the members.  The Major thinks I am behind the times. If Abolition and her twin sister, Amalgamation, are "the times," I should choose to say, "Far away to the windward." The critter Abolition, I suppose, is formed like other bastes, "with head and tail," and as the modesty of Charles W. Hunters, Esq. will not suffer him to assume "the head," we must permit him to "dangle in the rear," in his more appropriate place. Farewell.

 

I appears to me that the synopsis of the "hour address" offered by the Rev. H. Loomis, as a substitute for mine, is no improvement. Such a motley mess of truth and error has seldom been exhibited to the public. How strange it is that Christian men should make such havoc of the good book. But nothing with them is law, gospel, or common sense unless they can fit it in as a prop to Abolition, et vice versa. Who but an Abolitionist could ever have discovered that all the slavery or bondage spoken of in the Bible was voluntary? Such perpetual bondage as we read of in Lev. XXV: 44-40, voluntary? Verily, there are new things under the sun.

 

Let us take a peep at the reverend gentleman's exposition of this Levitical bondage. Here it is - Three friends meet. A agrees to pay B. $300 for his slave C., and to keep C. a slave for life, and to give him (C) and his posterity to his (A's) children for an inheritance forever. To all of which C. most willingly accedes, without fee or reward; doffs his hat, and steps down to the humble condition of slave for life, with the solsoling reflection that his posterity are to be an inheritance to others, forever.  Beautiful logic, this!

 

AGain, the reverend gentleman says, "American slavery is stringently coercive and has the power of the state pledged to keep slaves from leaving their master." He quotes some rigid laws from the statute book of Missouri; most of which, however, are the legitimate results of their own thievish propensities. If the reverend gentleman will read Ex. XXI: 20, 21, he will find more stringent laws upon this subject than any to be found in this country. None that he has quoted count a silver toward it; and no reason is given for these severe laws, only "they are your money."

 

What a pity Abolitionists could not have been there, especially at their religious festivals, that while the masters were honestly and devoutly worshiping God at Jerusalem, they could be sneaking about the country, building "underground railroads," stealing horses for cars, and slaves for freight, as they are doing amongst us at the present day. Then would they have exclaimed, as the reverend gentleman does, "What fine times!"

 

Whether slavery is sin or not is a mooted question. That it is the result of sin, none pretend to deny; so also, are human governments and laws; so are locks and bars; and so are all aches and pains. But is it sinful to have the headache? No doubt it is, when a prominent man signs the Temperance pledge and then drinks brandy till his head aches; so is the abuse of all that we have and are sinful.

 

I wish it understood that I am not advocating slavery, but opposing modern Abolition. Its devotees are a moral, social, and political pest to our country. The worst wish I have for them is that they may repent of their evil deeds, cease scattering their firebrands over the country, and with equal zeal, but better directed, teach both to masters and to servants and to all others the blessed truths of the gospel of peace in their original simplicity and force; and if, in so doing, slavery shall be banished from the face of the whole earth, good - very good. Then, instead of retarding, they will have contributed their mito towards ushering in that glorious day when all, both high and lower, rich and poor, bond and free, who belive and obey the Divine precepts of the Sacred Scrilptures, shall be equal in all respects, clothed with the garments of immortality and eternal life.  Signed by Elias Hibbard.

 

 

 

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