Constitution of the Oberlin Anti-Slavery Society
Founded June, 1835
Believing it incumbent upon all who associate for the advancement of the general good to state explicitly their object, their reasons for seeking it, the means proposed for its accomplishment, and the principles which are to control their action; we make the following exposition.
I. Object. Our object is the immediate emancipation of the whole colored race within the United States: The emancipation of the slave from the oppression of the master, the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment, and the elevation of both to an intellectual, moral, and political equality with the whites.
II. Reasons. We advocate the immediate emancipation of the slave for the following reasons
1. He is constituted by God a moral agent, the keeper of his own happiness, the executive of his own powers, the accountable arbiter of his own choice; personal ownership his birthright, unforfeited and invaluable; liberty, and the pursuit of happiness his chartered rights, inherited from his maker and guaranteed by all the laws of his being. Slavery robs him of himself, body and soul; and though he is immortal, created in God's image, the purchase of a Saviour's blood, visited by the Holy Ghost, and united to a citizenship with angels and to fellowship with God, it drags him to the shambles and sells him like a beast, goads him to incessant and unrequited toil, withholds from him legal protection in all his personal rights and social relations, and abandons to caprice, cupidity, passion, and lust, all that is dear in human well-being. It crushes the upward tendencies of the intellect, makes the acquisition of knowledge a crime, and consigns the mind to famine.
It stifles the moral affections, represses the innate longings of the spirit, paralyzes conscience, turns hope to despair, and kills the soul.
As a system, slavery annihilates the marriage relation, exposes to pollution a million of females, and makes stripes or death the penalty of resistance. It tears assunder parents and children, husbands and wives, and consigns them to distant and hopeless bondage, desolate and heartbroken.
2. It excites the enmity of the oppressed against the oppressor, goads to desperation and revenge, provokes insurrection, and perils public safety.
3. It tends to blunt the sensibilities of all who exercise authority over the slave, and to transform them into tyrants. The whole process is drawn to the life by President Jefferson, who lived and died a slave holder.
"The parent storms: the child looks on, catches the lividments [?] of wrath, puts on the same airs, in the circle of smaller slaves.[(It?] gives loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny cannot fail to be stamped with odious peculiarities. The man must be who can retain his morals and manners undepraved in such circumstances."
4. It is the occasion of deep moral pollution to the families of slave holders; -- a pollution mingling with the first thoughts, spreading wider and wider with the increase of years, and naturally resulting from contact with those whom legalized oppression renders liable to prostitution.
5. It cripples the energies of the whole nation, entails poverty and decay upon the states which uphold it, foments division and alienation in our public councils, and puts in jeopardy the existence of the Union.
6. It is opposed to the genius of our Government, makes our Constitution a mockery, converts our national Declaration into a rapsody [sic] of sentimentalism, convicts us of hypocrisy at the bar of the world, neutralizes the power of our example as a nation, and checks the progress of republican principles.
7. It opposes an insuperable barrier to the conversion of the world, is a standing libel upon the avowed influence of the Christian religion, and heathen nations will not be slow to read the disgraceful commentary. It sanctions as a principle the absurd and wicked prejudice against color; and thus not only dooms to despair the unfortunate millions of colored people in our own country, but would, if carried out, paralyze all missionary effort and shut the bowels [?] of mercy forever against the world.
8. Slavery exposes the nation to the judgments of God. We adopt and reiterate the memorable sentiment of Jefferson: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that his justice will not sleep forever:" and we urge an immediate repentance of the sin which provokes his wrath, and an immediate breaking off from it by righteousness.
We advocate the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment and civil disabilities; Because color, condition of birth, poverty, calamity and complicated woe deserve no punishment.
It is a part of a tyrant to inflict penalties upon the innocent; and when the victim is powerless, friendless, long oppressed, and already heart [inserted above] broken, it is the part of a fiend. The colored race in this country are the objects of scorn and persecution. Impoverished, disenfranchised, and trodden into the dust, they faint under the inflictions of a public sentiment, "which escalteth itself above all that [?] is called God." We cannot hold our peace while these, our brethren, are immolated upon the altar of prejudice and pride. They need our sympathies and our aid, and they shall have them. [different handwriting]
III. Principles. The principles which will control our operations are inculcated in the following precepts of our Lord: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "As you would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." "Beware of hardness of heart toward they poor brother." We adopt implicitly and entirely the law of love as the basis of our action.
IIII. Mode of Operation. We shall seek to effect the abolition of Slavery
1. Not by instigating the slaves to rebellion. This would be murder [different handwriting]. The principles on this point are those of our master and Lord. "Resist not evil." "Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully [sic] use you and persecute you."
2. Not by advocating an interposition of force on the part of the free States. Even if Congress had power to abolish slavery [stricken out]. We are no advocates for war.
3. Not by advocating congressional interference with the constitutional powers of the States. Even if Congress had power to abolish slavery, our principles "show us a more excellent way."
We seek to abolish slavery;
1. By approaching the minds of slave holders with the truth, in the spirit of the Gospel. "Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor and not suffer sin upon him" is the commandment of God. We shall endeavour to induce men to forsake this, as every other sin, by speaking the truth in love; addressing it to the understanding, pressing it upon the conscience, appealing to sympathy, invoking patriotism and philanthropy, and summoning out the manhood of the Soul to an act of justice after long and guilty delay. In fine, we propose to use only such means as are sanctioned by the laws of the land, the dictates of humanity, the principles of justice, and the Gospel of Christ.
2. By appeals to the pecuniary interests of the slave holders.
3. By presenting facts, arguments, and the uniform results of experiment demonstrating the practicality, safety, and expediency of immediate emancipation, and the presumption and peril of delay.
4. By a general dissemination of facts, reasonings, and appeals upon the subject of slavery.
5. By embodying and concentrating public sentiment against the system.
6. By promoting the observance of the monthly concert of prayer for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the world, and by beseeching our fellow christians, and fathers and brethren in the ministry, to pray without ceasing, in secret and in public, that "every yoke may be broken," and that "all the oppressed may go free."
To prevent misapprehension, we subjoin the following exposition of immediate emancipation. It has been extensively adopted as expressing the views of Abolitionists and embodies substantially our own.
"By immediate emancipation, we do not mean that the slaves shall be turned loose upon the nation to roam as vagabonds and aliens -- nor
That they shall be instantly invested with all political rights -- nor
That they shall be expelled from their native land to a foreign clime, as the price and condition of their freedom.
But we do mean -- that instead of being under the unlimited control of a few irresponsible masters, they shall receive the protection of law:
That the power which is invested in every slave holder, to rob them of their dues, to drive them to the field like beasts, to lacerate their bodies, to sell the husband from his wife, the wife from her husband, and children from their parents, shall instantly cease;
That the slaves shall be employed as free laborers, fairly compensated and protected in their earnings;
That they shall be placed under a benevolent and disinterested supervision, which shall secure to them the right to obtain secular and religious knowledge, to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences, and to seek an intellectual and moral equality with the whites."
Finally impelled by these considerations, and looking to God for wisdom, strength, and success, we solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, to seek through evil report and good report, "the immediate emancipation of the whole colored race. The emancipation of the slave from the oppression of the master, the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment, and the elevation of both to an intellectual, moral, and political equality with the whites."
Art. 1st - This society shall be called "The Anti Slavery Society of Oberlin [no close quotes] and shall be auxiliary to the Lorain Co. Anti Slavery Society.
Art. 2nd - The Officers of this Society shall be elected annually at the annual meeting; and shall consist of a President, two Vice Presidents, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor and Twelve managers.
Art. 3rd - Each officer shall perform the several duties usually belonging to the office he holds.
Art. 4th - The Board of Managers shall from their own number elect an Executive Committee of five who shall through the Corresponding Secretary, direct all the correspondence of the Society (no comma) prepare for publication such documents as they may deem important, and control the appropriation of Society's funds, subject to the supervision of the Board of Managers.
Art. 5th - Funds for all purposes of the society shall depend entirely upon voluntary contributions.
Art. 6th - The Society shall hold an annual meeting on the Tuesday preceding the first Wednesday of July, quarterly meetings on the first Tuesday of October, January, April.
Art. 7th - Any person may become a member of this Society, by subscribing to the Preamble & Constitution.
J.J. Shipherd M.K. Mahan
A.W. Mahan A.J. Mahan
C.G. Finney L.D. Mahan
H.B. Stanton A. Mahan (crossed out)
A. Tracy C.M. Sur ?
B. Patton E. Pease
B. Stephens M. Tracy
W.Hosford S.S. Platt
S.W. Streeter A. Platt
P.P. Pease F.C. Platt
J. Dascomb M.J. Hoisington
P. James S.N. Warren (crossed out)
J. Morgan E.N. (?) Leonard (crossed out)
H. Lyman Mary Williams (crossed out)
J.A. Thome Eliza Sill (crossed out)
Wm. J. Allan Fidelia Scovel (crossed out)
H. Fairchild E.H. Barlett (crossed out)
Wm. P. Cushman Mrs. C.G. Finney (crossed out)
G. Whipple Chloe Cummings (crossed out)
G. Clark S.H. Hopkins
D. Bishop E.B. Humphrey (crossed out)
D. Branch A. Dewey (crossed out)
E.N. Bartlett Catherine P. Moore (crossed out)
W. Weir S. Fairchild
S.E. Platt M.A. Fletcher (crossed out)
Wm. Lewis Almira Otis (crossed out)
s. Turner S. Bishop
J.M. Barrows Amelia Jones (crossed out)
S.W. Graves Fannie Fletcher (crossed out)
A. Bronson Mary Thome (crossed out)
C.D. Martin Eliza Branch (crossed out)
George S. Hovey Laurette Turner (?)(crossed out)
H.C. Brown L. Hosford (crossed out)
U.T. Chamberlin Lydia Hosford
Alfred Smith Deborah Woodward
C.B. Finney Sally Fletcher (crossed out)
R.W. Lane Elizabeth Hopkins (crossed out)
Wm. Hills L. Comet
Benjamin Sweet C.S. Comet
Norman Sykes T.S. Pelton(crossed out)
T.D. Ingersoll Louisa Mattison (crossed out)
Isaac J. (?) Warren L. Turner (crossed out)
Lucius H. Parker A.G. Moore (crossed out)
E.B. Sherwood Lucy Jones (crossed out)
J.S. Campbell Betsey M. Kinney (crossed out)
Rolen Brown Sarah Sanburn (crossed out)
G.W. Fletcher Adeline Smith (crossed out)
N. Fletcher Elisabeth S. Prall (crossed out)
G. Smith Carrolline Hopkins (crossed out)
Jonathan L. Granger Harriet Matcham (crossed out)
Amos B. Adams Charlotte Boland (crossed out)
A. Munger Lydia Brown (crossed out)
Robert E. Gillet Minerva Penfield (crossed out)
Harvey Gibbs Eliza Hall(crossed out)
Chas. Sill Laura Eastman (crossed out)
Aaron Childs N.A. Gillet (crossed out)
Thomas K. Chandler Laura A. Eastman (crossed out)
Horton D. Dyke Elizabeth Leonard (crossed out)
J.J. Gardner Sarah Hall (crossed out)
C.W. Wallace Dinah Hall (crossed out)
Joseph Whitney Patience Boland (crossed out)
E. Ralph Sarah Rudd (crossed out)
Frederick W. Burges Sally M. Ward (crossed out)
Philo B. Littlejohn Jane Trafford (crossed out)
Joseph Lawrence Janis Platt (crossed out)
Thomas P. Turner Mary M. Platt (crossed out)
John M. Williams Lucy W. Lynde (crossed out)
E.H. Fairchild Caroline Bushnell (crossed out)
Chas Garrish Mary A. Chapin (crossed out)
M.L. Brooks Mary Hall (crossed out)
Theodore J. Keep Harriet Chapin (crossed out)
C.D. Hibbard Esther R. Shipherd (crossed out)
Jonah B. Hall Wm. C. Shipherd
Asa L. Shaw Charles Sherwood (crossed out) (duplicate)
James S. Brown P.P. Stewart
Wm. B. Hall J. Middleton
Chas S. Moore AG.H. Thompson
Hiram Wilson R.H. Thompson
Silas G. Tyler E.W. Carmichael
A.E. Lyon E.P. French
Gilbert H. Littlejohn P. Haskins (crossed out)
James E. Bru? Rhoda Sage (crossed out)
Lawrence D. Weeks Eliza Meacham (crossed out)
Z.N. Lewis Betsy Francisco (crossed out)
Benjamin Folts Sarah L. Culver (crossed out)
Edward Coles C.S. Marsh
Wm. Hoisington Jos. Woodman
Cummings Fletcher George L. Chapin
Isaac D. Caswell E. Branch (crossed out)
Washington George M.A. Whittlesy (crossed out)
Wm. Sheffield Wm. W. Wright
J.B. Campbell Wm. H. Marsh
Horace Crosby J. Cochran
Milton S. Brainerd P. Cochran
Daniel Marsh L. Mills
Daniel B. Kinney Th. Brooks
Paul Shipherd S.A. Capen (crossed out)
R.H. Donegan Ruth H. Pease (crossed out)
Martin Leonard J.M. Blakeslee (crossed out)
George Thompson Marianne Dascomb (crossed out)
A.W. Norris G. Pease (crossed out)
W.G. Bingham F. Pease
D. Hubbard, jr. Daniel Stillman
Moses W. Henderson E. Pease
G. Blair Sarah Munger (crossed out)
Wm. Cochrane Wm. L Munger (crossed out)
Brewster Pelton E.L. Stevens
M. Boland A. Tracy
Geo. Barrows J.A.. Alvord
M. Fitch D. Fenn (crossed out)
C.J. Backslee C.M. Branch (crossed out)
B. McCord C.S. Branch (crossed out)
Benjamin Cole Ann E. Brown (crossed out)
J.M. Cragen A.W. Norris
Wm. W. Gaston Julius O. Beardslee
Chas A. Walker Geo. W.. Lane (crossed out)
Albertus L. Lynde S.F. Parker
Thos. Goodman David R. Mills
H.N. Smaller Thomas Jones
James.Adair Willard Barr
Geo. S. Harris Gehial Matthie
J.T. Williams J.R. Smith
Danl. Morgan Marshal A. Munson
Asa B. Childs E.J. Grumbey
Ezra C. Prince D. Jeffers
Wm. H. Green John J. Griffin
Philip D. Adams L. Stroughtenborough
Anson Penfield Robert Cochran?
Jos. Sill Hiram B. Hunt
Jos. H. Marsh A.L. Morris
Henry Chapin Joshua Campbell
Chas W. Sherwood David Holtslander
Edwin Dowd Heman Chapin
N. Shaw Alvin Kimball
N. Brown D.W. Baldwin
E.H. Ingraham Henry Wilcox
D. Samson Eben Campbell
L.D. Butts Milo R. Goodrich
Stephen Hull H.B. Clarke
P. Hamilton E.J. Townsend
Nathaniel Garrish P.W. Gray
E. Spencer John P. Cowles
Jos. Sill, jr. Henry Cowles
Phillip James (crossed out) (duplicate) E.P. Ingersol
Stephen C. Leonard Thomas James/Jones? (crossed out)
Elizur M. Leonard James Dascomb
S.L.D. Eastman Cornelius S. Cady
C.A. Jenison Daniel Chapman
C.A. Pease Wilhelm Smith
N.A. Hunt Samuel White Jr.
E.L. Penfield M.M. Clark
S. Davis H.L. Hammond
Henry Shipherd Henry Bowen
Alonzo Pease S. Cole
W.W. Ingersoll Wm. S. Lewis
Franklin Turner J. R. Smith
C. Hopkins Wm. Hogarth
John Petty Russia E. Benedict
N. Scovill Seldon Haynes
B. Hall Alexander Steele
Anson Jones Ralph Tyler
A.M. Eastman R.L. Hurlbut ?
L.C. Ingersoll S. D. Cochran
James Hull W.L Parson
Edward Fletcher William Markin
S.R. Hall D.B. Nichols
Ira Mattison H. Hopkins
V.H. Hall J.R. Brown
A.J. Harris (crossed out) S. McKenney
A.D. Thidd[?], Jr, (crossed out) his mark X H.W. [Penfield?]
Joseph Chester H. Foote
Charles Langston J.S. Lewis
C. Adams Hiram Eddy
Leonard S. Parker S.C. Hinsdale
S. Bristol A.D. Botsford
A.E. Gillett Isaac Penfield
Horatio N. Norton J.B. Hall
Thomas B. Howells Daniel Chapman
Martin Wilcox R.H. Penfield
H. Wilcox W. Cochran
George G.W. Lane (crossed out) R.N. Randall
James K. Wright William P. Randall ?
William H. Plumb J.M. Blakesly
Timothy B. Hudson Enos Wood, Jr.
Stephen D. Eells Julius M. Morse
Abel Stockwell Nelson Cooke
Nathaniel Chamberlain Isaac J, Bigelow
Robert Riddle E.B. Chamberlain
John M. Riddle