Topic: GEORGE STORRS' METHODIST & ABOLITIONIST PERIOD
posted 5/19/01 1:22 PM
As related in the "Storrs Biography" posts, George Storrs began associating with pastors of the Methodist Episcopalian Church during the early 1820s. He officially converted in 1825, and actively participated in the Methodist Traveling Connection.
However, Storrs's (auto)biography is somewhat modest in not fully relating his prominence in the M.E. Church.
George Storrs was selected as a delegate to the 1832 M.E. General Conference, which was held in Philadelphia, and the 1836 General Conference held in Cincinnati.
It is my understanding that the M.E. Church only held General Conferences every 4 years, which means that Storrs was selected to attend the second and third ones which occurred after his conversion.
However, George Storrs had also become a prominent Abolitionist during this time period, and his Anti-Slavery activities were not liked by the majority of the M.E. Church.
The following excerpt is taken from the History of the 1836 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Storrs was one of the two delegates who was "publicly censured" by this Resolution overwhelmingly adopted by the delegates of this General Conference.
"But that which excited the deepest interest at thus General Conference was the subject of slavery and abolitionism.
That this subject may be clearly understood, and the controversy to which it gave birth duly appreciated, we must be allowed to enter into some historical details. That the Methodist Episcopal Church has always been opposed to slavery, and has accordingly adopted measures to do it away, and where this could not be done, to mitigate its evils, is a truth written upon all her institutions, and confirmed by various enactments of the General Conference; and she was going on in her steady career of doing good to the souls and bodies of both master and slave, to the white and colored population of our country, when she was suddenly arrested by a new species of measures to effect emancipation.
The success which had crowned the efforts of British philanthropists in bringing about emancipation in the West Indies, though it was effected by a compromise between the government and the owners of the slaves, by which the latter received a supposed equivalent for their legalized property, awakened a spirit of inquiry in our country respecting the practicability of emancipating the slaves in our southern and southwestern states, without waiting for the slow and more safe process of a gradual preparation for such an event. This spirit was powerfully excited by agents sent out from England, for the express purpose of lecturing us on the evils of slavery, and enlightening us on the duty and feasibility of immediate and unconditional emancipation, not indeed in imitation of the plan adopted by the legislature of their own country, which was to remunerate, in part at least, the owners of the slaves for their property; but they insisted upon a full, and free, and immediate surrender of the slaves, as a political and religious duty, alike demanded by the laws of God and of nature. These heedless and enthusiastic lecturers, not understanding the peculiar structure of our complicated governments, including the state and general governments, and not caring to distinguish between slavery as it existed here, and slavery as it had existed in the West Indies, loudly proclaimed a war against it, with such a flippancy of misguided zeal, that they soon goaded the public mind almost to madness, and thus aroused a spirit of resistance to their proceedings and measures which it was not easy to control. This interference of foreigners with our domestic relations was considered by the more judicious portions of the community as highly reprehensible, and worthy of severe rebuke and remonstrance. Accordingly, the newspapers soon became rife with discussions upon this topic. Criminations and recriminations followed each other, until the public mind became so excited as to be incapable of calm and sober investigation on either side of the question, so that, in some instances, mob violence was substituted for argument; and "lynch law" for Scriptural and rational defense. These violent measures were alike condemned by the more sober portion of both parties.
In this agitated state of things, it could hardly be expected that the Church should wholly escape the excitement or avoid participating in the discussions to which it gave rise. Accordingly, as our brethren in the eastern states entered more deeply into this subject than any others, and as they had a weekly paper under their control, its columns were opened to the discussion of slavery as it existed in the United States, and severe denunciations were uttered against all who held slaves, whether in or out of the Church. These denunciations were met and repelled with spirit by those more immediately implicated, as being incompatible with the spirit of brotherly love which ought to characterize all Christians, and more especially such as are members of the same communion.
These discussions had been conducted for two or three years previously to the session of this General Conference, and a weekly paper had been established in the city of New York for the vowed purpose of advocating immediate emancipation, irrespective of all consequences. As the arguments and measures set forth in this and other periodicals of a kindred character were not fellowshipped by a great majority of our preachers and people even in the middle and northern conferences, nor by the official organ of the Church, the Christian Advocate and Journal, these were stigmatized by the immediate emancipationists as pro-slavery in their views and feelings, and, of course, as involved in the same guilt and condemnation with those who actually held their fellow-beings in bondage. These irritating charges were considered unjust, as the brethren implicated thought they could easily distinguish between arm approval of slavery as a system, and the apologizing for those who held slaves under certain peculiar circumstances. This clear distinction, however, was not admitted by the zealous advocates of immediate emancipation, and hence they poured forth their anathemas upon all indiscriminately who either held slaves or offered an apology for those that did, on account of their peculiar circumstances.
It was in this state of the public mind, and of the Church, that the General Conference came together in 1836. And though many of its oldest and most judicious members were very desirous of keeping the discussion of slavery from the deliberations of the conference, being convinced it could result in no good, yet several circumstances conduced to bring it in, and to make it the subject of much debate. In the first place, the allusion to the subject in the address of our Wesleyan brethren and in the address of their representative, the Rev. William Lord, made it necessary to advert to it in the answer of the General Conference, which, it will be perceived by those who will look at that answer, was done in a very brief and respectful manner. In the second place, not many days after the conference had assembled, it was ascertained that two of the abolition brethren from New England had attended and lectured at an abolition meeting in the city of Cincinnati; and as the agitation was very great upon that subject, it was feared by many that a popular excitement would be produced injurious to the character of the conference, and perhaps detrimental to the peace and harmony of the Church in Cincinnati.
With a view to allay all such apprehension, the conference passed the following preamble and resolutions, by a vote of one hundred and twenty in favor and fourteen against them: --
"Whereas, great excitement has prevailed in this country on the subject of modern abolitionism, which is reported to have been increased in this city recently by the unjustifiable conduct of two members of the General Conference in lecturing upon and in favor of that agitating subject; and whereas, such a course on the part of any of its members is calculated to bring upon this body the suspicions and distrust of the community, and to misrepresent its sentiments in regard to the points at issue; and whereas, in this aspect of the case, a due regard for its own character, as well as a just concern for the interests of the Church confided to its care, demand a full, decided, and unequivocal expression of the ideas of the General Conference in the premises: -- Therefore,
Resolved, by the delegates of the annual conferences in General Conference assembled, That they disapprove, in the most unqualified sense, the conduct of two members of the General Conference, who are reported to have lectured in this city recently upon and in favor of modern abolitionism.
Resolved, That they are decidedly opposed to modern abolitionism, and wholly disclaim any right, wish, or intention to interfere in the civil and political relation between master and slave as it exists in the slave-holding states in this Union.
Resolved, That the foregoing preamble and resolutions be published in our periodicals."
The consideration of these resolutions brought the entire subject of slavery and abolitionism before the conference, and elicited a very spirited and protracted debate, which finally ended in their adoption, as before mentioned. Many very able speeches were delivered on both sides of the question, and generally with good temper and much calmness of deliberation, though not without some appearance of asperity and warmth of feeling. ..."
posted 5/19/01 1:46 PM
The following excerpt is taken from a very detailed history of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Slavery issue.
It also provides excellent background info on George Storrs's problems with the Church hierarchy, and why he was removed from the Methodist Traveling Connection in 1836, and why he eventually left the Church in 1840.
Storrs is mentioned in this excerpt as being one of the most prominent Abolitionists during this time period.
The history of Methodist legislation on slavery after 1800 reveals a steady compromise of earlier principles. From 1800 to 1832 the Methodists moved from opposition to slavery to a more neutral policy. In 1804 the General Conference decided to print two disciplines, omitting the section on slavery in the edition for southern states. This practice was continued in 1808 when each annual conference was given the power to determine the standing of members who bought and sold slaves. By 1816 the General Conference made it plain that Methodists were to be concerned with preaching, not with slavery. The 1828 General Conference refused to pass a resolution permitting the church to discipline masters who mistreated their slaves. By 1832 it appeared that the church could easily avoid all discussion of slavery; that General Conference easily tabled all proposals dealing with slavery, believing it "inexpedient to discuss the issue. Southern Methodists were satisfied with missions for the slaves, and the northern element was contented with active support of colonization. At the very time the majority of Methodists thought the disturbing issue of slavery had been safely relegated to insignificance, abolitionism made its appearance within Methodism.
New England Methodist ministers were among the first converts to abolitionism. William Lloyd Garrison began publishing the Liberator in 1831, and by 1834 abolitionism was well established among Methodist ministers. The most influential of these early abolitionists were La Roy Sunderland, George Storrs and Orange Scott. Abolitionism first entered official Methodist business in the New England Conference of 1834, when Scott moved to table a resolution supporting the Colonization Society. The motion carried and the matter was dropped. Apparently the abolitionists had planned to take some further steps, but for some unknown reason changed their minds.
After this first timid appearance, abolitionism began to spread rapidly among Methodists in New England. Shortly after the conference of 1834 several strong antislavery articles appeared in Zion's Herald (July 18, August 6 and 13), a weekly newspaper of the New England Conference, and in October the first Methodist antislavery society was formed. In 1835 Orange Scott published a series of antislavery articles in Zion's Herald. The most significant action of the Methodist abolitionists was the publication of "An Appeal to the Members of the New England and New Hampshire Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church" in an extra edition of Zion's Herald on February 4, 1835. This lengthy statement called attention to the antislavery tradition of Methodism and asked all Methodist ministers to be faithful to that heritage by working for the immediate abolition of slavery.
This action provoked the first episcopal opposition. On April 8, 1835, another special edition of Zion's Herald contained "A Counter Appeal to the Ministers and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the New England and New Hampshire Conferences." This statement, signed by several prominent churchmen and approved by Bishop Elijah Hedding, gave a different interpretation of Methodist history and listed a number of specific objections to abolitionist activities. These ministers argued that abolition tended to perpetuate slavery and was likely to become a political issue on which Methodist ministers should remain neutral. Further, emancipation was going to take a long time; if there were hopes for immediate abolition, all Methodists would aid the effort. Under the circumstances, however, the ministers of the South were best able to decide what steps should be taken toward emancipation. Finally, they dissociated themselves from the agitation and opposed specific tactics of the abolitionists.
To the "Counter Appeal" Bishop Hedding, formerly of the New England Conference and a bishop since 1824, appended this statement:
I have read the above "Counter Appeal," and, in general, I believe the arguments and statements are correct; particularly, those which refer to the acts of the General Conference. 1have seen with much regret, that several of our brethren in this country who write against slavery, do not understand its condition in the south, and that, therefore, they undesignedly misrepresent it. And I do most affectionately and earnestly entreat them to desist from the present course, being fully persuaded that such publications can afford no benefit to the slaves.
Thus, in the early months of organized Methodist abolitionism, Bishop Hedding declared himself opposed to it and sought by means of his personal influence to bring it to an end.
Hedding was soon joined in his efforts to suppress abolitionism by his colleague, Bishop John Emory of Maryland. At the New England Conference in June, 1835, Emory opened the sessions by admonishing the ministers to be 'jealous of themselves" rather than of others, an obvious reference to the abolitionists. The conference was decidedly abolitionist in sentiment; it chose six abolitionists to serve on the seven-man delegation to the next General Conference. Hedding, presiding bishop at this conference, refused to put any of the several antislavery resolutions to a vote, thus adding his power as presiding officer to his personal influence as a means of stopping abolitionism. Although the conference officially apologized to the bishops for frustrating the regular business, the abolitionists were encouraged to carry their fight against slavery outside the official Methodist organizational structure: they organized the New England Wesleyan Anti-Slavery Society.
Bishop Emory, presiding at the New Hampshire Conference in August, 1835, continued to oppose abolitionism. When the committee on slavery presented an abolitionist report, Emory refused to put it to a vote. The conference formed a committee of the whole and adopted the report by a vote of 57 to 8; since Emory was not in the chair, however, the action could not be considered a statement of the conference. This conference also formed an antislavery society, for it was now very clear that the bishops, or at least Hedding and Emory, were going to oppose the abolitionists at every step. Orange Scott, who helped to organize the new antislavery society, pointed out some contradictions in the position of the bishops. "This same bishop [Emory] ," he declared, "did not refuse to put anti-abolition resolutions in the Maine conference, a few days previous-no, nor did he refuse to draft those resolutions with his own hand."
The first official statement by the bishops, several months after the two conferences, came as a formal pastoral letter addressed to the New England and New Hampshire Conferences. Published in the Christian Advocate and Journal on September 25, 1835, and signed by Hedding and Emory, the letter indicated that such an address was necessary because the majority of the church was opposed to abolitionism, because abolitionist sentiment was prominent in only the two conferences, and because abolitionism tended to produce "pernicious results." In addition to the arguments advanced in the "Counter Appeal," the two bishops argued that each state was sovereign and that citizens of New England had no more control over the southern states than they did over a foreign country. They also contended that the New Testament did not condone the measures of abolitionism. But the most important reason for the bishops' refusal to allow the passage of abolitionist resolutions was that they would not "silently witness the arbitrary denunciations of one part of our charge by brethren of another part." Both the primary motivation and the policy appeared when the bishops admonished the ministers to do nothing that would disturb the peace of the church and advised the presiding elders to suppress abolitionism "by all lawful and Christian means."
Until this time the bishops had acted on their own initiative, but the General Conference of 1836 approved their handling of affairs and sanctioned further suppression of abolitionism. The General Conference voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution "That the committee appointed to draft a pastoral letter to our preachers.., be. . . instructed to take notice of the subject of modern abolition .. . and that they let our preachers.., know that the General Conference are opposed to the agitation of that subject, and will use all prudent means to put it down."' The committee, composed of Nathan Bangs, William Capers, and Thomas A. Morris, complied with this request, thus giving the bishops official sanction for a policy that they had already begun and were to pursue for the next four years
Although it would be impossible to determine the extent of episcopal influence on the actions of the General Conference, that body also refused to give the abolitionists a hearing in 1836. The General Conference condemned Samuel Norris and George Storrs for addressing an abolitionist meeting and even refused, by a vote of 120 to 15, a motion by Orange Scott to preface their censure with the traditional statement that Methodists were opposed to the evil of slavery. In this whole affair, Scott was convinced that the abolitionists' arguments had not been heard, and he promptly printed a pamphlet in which he hoped to state the abolitionist point of view and refute its opponents. For this, Scott was abused by Nathan Bangs and William Winans, a Mississippi delegate who called Scott a "reckless incendiary or non compos mentis." Winans offered a resolution which denied the honesty of Scott's pamphlet. The resolution passed 97 to 19. The bishops were hardly consistent in their refusal to allow "the arbitrary denunciation of one part of our charge by brethren of another part."
The General Conference of 1836 further strengthened the policy of the bishops by electing three antiabolitionist members to the episcopacy: Wilbur Fisk, Thomas A. Morris, and Beverly Waugh. Fisk was from the New England Conference, but received his nomination for the episcopacy from the South. He was the foremost opponent of abolitionism in the New England Conference. In 1835 he objected to the character of every abolitionist in the conference. He refused to accompany his abolitionist brethren to the General Conference and was not present when elected to the episcopacy. Although Fisk refused the office for reasons of health, he was an ardent opponent of abolitionism for the next several years.
Morris, editor of the Western Christian Advocate from Ohio, was also a nominee of the southern delegates. In an editorial in the November 20, 1835, issue, Morris had declared himself to be "no friend of immediate abolitionism," and his part in the writing of the antiabolitionist pastoral letter had proven his sincerity. Waugh was from New York but had been transferred there from the Baltimore Conference. Although a known antiabolitionist before his election, he had not taken an active part in opposition to the abolitionists. After becoming a bishop, he joined wholeheartedly in the suppression of Methodist abolitionism.
For several years after the General Conference of 1836 the bishops followed a consistent course of suppressing Methodist abolitionism. The New York Conference, which met just after the general sessions, voted approval of the antiabolitionist advice in the pastoral address and made submission to the policy of non-agitation a condition of ordination. The New England Conference in 1836 however, remained decidedly abolitionist. At the beginning of the conference, a resolution was offered to appoint a committee on slavery. Hedding, again the presiding bishop, objected but put the resolution to a vote. A committee was appointed and instructed by the conference to report at its earliest convenience. When the committee tried to present the report on several different occasions during the following days, Hedding refused to allow it. Finally, at 11 p.m. on the last day of the conference, he allowed the committee to read its report. Hedding responded with some extended remarks in which he said that there was much in the report which was inconsistent with Methodism and that he could not put the report to a vote. A motion to adjourn did not carry. Hedding then declared that there would still be no vote on the report, read the list of appointments, and closed the conference without a conference vote.
At this conference Bishop Hedding intensified the policy of suppression by using his power over appointments to discourage abolitionism. La Roy Sunderland, who had just published a lengthy abolitionist work entitled The Testimony of God Against Slavery (Boston, 1836), was brought to trial for his abolitionist activity and cleared by the conference. Hedding, however, refused to assign him to any station. Orange Scott was also tried and acquitted for his actions at the General Conference. Bishop Hedding removed Scott from his position as presiding elder, an office of power second only to the episcopacy. Hedding, in a private conference with Scott, informed him that unless he would pledge to refrain from writing and speaking on slavery he would not be reassigned as presiding elder. Scott refused to submit and was assigned as pastor to Lowell, Massachusetts.
The New Hampshire Conference, meeting immediately after the New England Conference, did not try to pass any abolitionist measures at their sessions in 1836. Hedding, however, continued to work against abolitionism through his control over appointments. Hedding's advisors requested that George Storrs be made presiding elder of a vacant district in the New Hampshire Conference. Hedding held a conference with Storrs and made the same demands that he had made of Scott. When Storrs refused to comply, Hedding reportedly said to him, "My obligations to the Church, then, will not allow me to appoint you presiding elder; for I should only be putting you in a more prominent place that you might do more mischief." Storrs asked to be located, thus removing himself from the itinerant ministry.
Excerpted from METHODIST BISHOPS AND ABOLITIONISM By Fred J. Hood.
posted 5/19/01 2:08 PM
George Storrs, and his fellow M.E. Church Abolitionists, fought many "church battles" with M.E. Church Bishop Elijah Hedding.
In 1855, D.W. Clark published a biography of Hedding, which related these "church battles". It also contains several references to George Storrs, which are excerpted below. Please note that Clark was an "advocate/friend" of Hedding and the M.E. Church, so his surrounding remarks are "shaped" accordingly.
"Some six or eight years, commencing with about 1834, were years of great excitement in relation to the system of slavery that had gradually grown up and extended in this country. The anti-slavery feeling that had been developing for years, was one of the natural results of the progress of Christian civilization. It comes not within our province to detail the history or to discuss the elements of this great movement. We have rather to do with some of the incidents of that movement-especially as they stand in connexion with the subject of our memoir. During the year 1834, several of the New-England preachers became not only the subjects, but also the active agents of the great excitement then springing up in relation to slavery. Prominent among them was Orange Scott, a popular and influential member of the New-England Conference. Being at that time presiding elder of the Providence District, his position gave him both influence and opportunities to agitate the subject. Accordingly he availed himself of the gatherings of preachers at camp-meetings and on other occasions not only to discuss the subject, but to have resolutions passed in relation to it. By these means the columns of the "Zion's Herald" were opened to such discussions. Mr. Scott also personally subscribed for one hundred copies of the "Liberator," edited by Wm. L. Garrison, to be sent to the members of the New.England Conference. At the session of this conference in 1835, the majority of its members had become abolitionists, and this became a test-question in the election of delegates to the General Conference. A feverish state of excitement' pervaded the entire conference; and so high did it rise during the election of delegates that it was not thought best to attempt the election of reserve delegates.
Similar measures had been used also in the New-Hampshire Conference, under the leadership of the Rev. George Storrs, with similar results. In New-England and in Northern New-York a strong anti-slavery feeling had long existed. The exciting lectures, speeches, pamphlets, &c., that were now brought to bear upon the public mind kindled up that anti-slavery feeling into a flame. Looking upon the cause as one embodying true philanthropic and benevolent principles, the apprehensions of the greater part of both ministers and people who were engaged in it, with regard to the ultimate consequences of ultra excitement and ultra measures, were completely lulled to slumber. They looked only at "the great evil;" and, as they supposed, were only rushing forward to its "extirpation." Not so with Bishop Hedding. God had made him an overseer of the whole Church, and he was compelled to view the subject from a different stand-point from that of many of his brethren. From his soul he abhorred the entire system of slavery; but in this movement he foresaw peril- to the Church, and could not, consistently with his obligations as a bishop, refrain from endeavouring to counteract the pernicious tendencies of this movement in relation to it, and he conceived it to be the duty of all ministers and members to do the same. Bishop Hedding witnessed, with painful emotion, the excited state of feeling in the New-England and New-Hampshire Conferences this year. He was distressed beyond measure at the ultra measures that were adopted by many members, the harsh expressions that were used, and the consequent alienation of feeling among those who had long lived and laboured together as brethren, and also at the imperious and arrogant spirit of some of the leaders, which he felt assured, unless timely checked, could end in nothing but the most radical and determined opposition to the government and salutary discipline of the Church. He had also shared largely in the personal abuse that was heaped upon those who, on account of prospective evil, sought to arrest or modify the course of the new and radical movement.
The sessions of the New-England and New-Hampshire Conferences for 1835 had been anticipated by an "'Appeal" on the subject of slavery, addressed to the members of each by some of the prominent abolitionists, though prepared, we believe, principally by La Roy Sunderland and George Storrs. To counteract the influence of this "Appeal," a " Counter-Appeal," signed by Dr. Fisk, John Lindsay, B. Otheman, Abel Stevens, and others, was issued in the fall of the same year. It was also accompanied by a note from Bishop Hedding, in which he expressed his belief of the correctness of its statements and arguments, especially those relating to the acts of the General Conference. This document was loudly assailed as a pro-slavery affair, and, of course, Bishop Hedding came in for his share of the obloquy. ..."
At the New-Hampshire Conference, which succeeded soon after, Bishop Hedding gave additional offence to the ultraists. The same reasons that had induced him to remove Orange Scott from the Providence District, led him to decline the appointment of Rev. George Storrs to a vacant district in the New-Hampshire Conference. The friends of Mr. Storrs strongly urged the appointment, and personally the bishop wqo not averse to it; but, in view of the previous course of Mr. Storrs on the subject of slavery, and also in view of the action of the General Conference and of his own official obligations, he deemed it his duty to pursue the same course he had pursued with Mr. Scott, and informed Mr. Storrs that he could not appoint him to such an office unless he had some assurance that he would cease to distract the Church by active participation in the ultra measures of the day. Mr. Storrs replied that he could come under no such obligation. Bishop Hedding then said to him,-" My obligations to the Church, then, will not allow me to appoint you presiding elder; for I should only be putting you in a more prominent place that you might do more mischief." This terminated the negotiation.
The next morning Mr. Storrs read a paper in conference, stating that he could not take an appointment under an officer of the General Conference in view of the action of that body on the subject of slavery, and he therefore asked a location. So far as we know, Mr. Storrs had been a talented, useful, and influential man in the conference; nor will we call in question the sincerity of his convictions or the purity of his motives. Yet we think his subsequent career fully vindicates the far-seeing wisdom and unflinching integrity of the venerable bishop.
These events, and others connected with them or resulting from the same causes, were, to the last degree, painful to the bishop. He felt himself conscientiously shut up to a course, for the sake of the Church and of the cause of God, which was turning many of his earliest and best friends into bitter opposers. He even felt constrained to change the place of his residence; and, in the fall of this year, removed from Lynn, Massachusetts, to Lansingburgh, NewYork. ..."
"... But we must now return to trace the course of Bishop Hedding, while providentially thrown into the midst of one of the most exciting popular movements ever witnessed in this country. We have already observed, that when he had obtained what was considered by all parties a just and honourable retraction of the misstatements that had been made by Mr. Scott, he fondly hoped that his personal as well as official collisions with that brother were at an end. This. reasonable hope, however, was doomed to a speedy disappointment. The conference granted Mr. Scott a supernumerary relation, and he wished to be left without an appointment. Bishop Waugh, however, appointed him to Wilbraham, and placed him in charge of the station. From his pastoral charge he was soon released by the presiding elder of the district, and immediately engaged in the work of an anti-slavery lecturer. Being thus released from his charge, the bishop found him stirring up the elements of discord at every subsequent conference he attended for the season.
Though exceedingly afflicted by the perversion of his acts and motives, and the ridicule to which he was constantly subjected in the lectures of Messrs. Scott and Storrs, the bishop carefully avoided an open rupture, and maintained himself in respect to the whole matter as became his position and duty. He felt aggrieved, however, to receive such treatment from those who had been his friends, and with whom he had for so many years maintained Christian fellowship and intercourse. Notwithstanding Mr. Scott's "retractions" at the session of the New-England Conference in 1836, he repeated the offence by republishing substantially the same letter soon after the session closed, and also by sundry letters published during the year, containing allegations equally offensive and misrepresentations equally unjust. ..."
"... Immediately after the close of the New-England Conference, Mr. Scott had a one-sided account of his trial, and of Bishop Hedding's administration during its session, published in a "Zion's Herald extra:" with these he was present at the Maine Conference, scattering them broad-cast among the preachers and people. The object could be no other than to disparage the bishop, and to lessen his influence among the preachers. The bishop, however, took no notice of the matter, and there is reason to believe that the effort was nearly, if not quite, abortive.
As an illustration of the state of feeling that existed at this time in the New-Hampshire Conference, and the singular course of action resorted to, we give the following note concerning its proceedings. It is taken from a letter addressed to Bishop Hedding by Bishop Morris, who had presided there this year. The letter is dated at Burlington, Vt., July 14, 1838. After giving Bishop HIedding a pressing invitation to accompany him in his visit to the conferences in northern and western New-York, he adds:
"The New-Hampshire Conference adjourned last Thursday forenoon. We had a pleasant session, all things considered. In reference to the exciting subject of controversy, we got along full as well as I expected. Four agents of the Anti-Slavery Society were present to aid in their out-door arrangements-Robinson, Buckley, G. Storrs, and 0. Scott part of the time. The whole time spent in the conference on the subject, first and last, was perhaps about three hours, and during that time very little warmth of feeling was manifested. The first thing done on the subject was to appoint a committee to prepare a memorial to the General Conference, to which I made no objection. When the examination of character came on, we had a little mandeuvering. An abolitionist moved to appoint a committee of five, to whom should be referred the case of every brother who had been to the convention, or lectured against slavery, &c. This was a farce played off for effect; and after entertaining us with abolition speeches about two hours, they postponed the resolution indefinitely. We resumed the examination, but objection was made to the passage of every brother's character who had participated in abolition measures. One abolitionist would object; another would move to pass the.character under consideration, and, after a few speeches, would vote each other through. This became tiresome, and a resolution was brought in declaring that attendance on abolition conventions, delivering abolition lectures, or circulating abolition payers, did not militate against the character of any member of the conference. This I pronounced out of order, on the ground that it approved what General Conference had condemned. An appeal was taken from my decision, and I agreed to put the question on the appeal, provided the journal should embrace my decision against the resolution, and such list of exceptions as I might choose to write. The appeal was sustained, my decision overruled, and the resolution adopted: Whereupon I entered my exception. Another motion was made to publish the resolution in several papers. I agreed to put the motion on condition the mover would so amend it as to embrace my decision and my exception, which was agreed to, and the whole ordered to be published.
Here our trouble ended. The committee first appointed brought in nothing but the resolutions which the New-England Conference passed touching the general rule on slavery, which the conference adopted without discussion. The brethren were all courteous and friendly, and we parted in peace. With their abolitionism I am not pleased; but there are many excellencies among them, and, upon the whole, I like the preachers of New-Hampshire Conference much better than I expected. ..."
posted 5/19/01 3:01 PM
George Storrs failed to mention in his (auto)biography that he had been arrested several times in the late 1830s for speaking at Anti-Slavery Society meetings.
The following excerpt is taken from the Pittsfield, New Hampshire history website:
"Beside the Old Meeting House, near the cemetery, is a sign noting the famous encounter in 1842 between Frederick Douglass and U. S. Senator Moses Norris, Jr. Douglass, the famous escaped slave working for abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, came here to explain the horrors of slavery.
Norris was widely known for his anti-slavery sentiments, including having the REVEREND GEORGE STORRS illegally arrested in Pittsfield (NH) for making an anti-slavery speech in the Pittsfield Baptist Church.
When Norris discovered that Douglass had been left out in the rain after his noon address, the Senator took the abolitionist to his home and offered food and shelter.
Douglass was so impressed that he wrote at length about the event in his autobiography."
The following excerpt is taken from Frederick Douglass's Autobiography.
In it, Douglass describes his trip to Pittsfield, NH, along with the reference to George Storr's arrest in Pittsfield in 1835, for speaking at an Anti-Slavery Society meeting.
"In 1842 I was sent by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society to hold a Sunday meeting in Pittsfield, N. H., and was given the name of Mr. Hilles, a subscriber to the Liberator. It was supposed that any man who had the courage to take and read the Liberator, edited by Wm. Lloyd Garrison, or the Herald of Freedom, edited by Nathaniel P. Rodgers, would gladly receive and give food and shelter to any colored brother laboring in the cause of the slave. As a general rule this was very true.
There were no railroads in New Hampshire in those days, so I reached Pittsfield by stage, glad to be permitted to ride upon the top thereof, for no colored person could be allowed inside. This was many years before the days of civil rights bills, black Congressmen, colored United States Marshals, and such like.
Arriving at Pittsfield, I was asked by the driver where I would stop. I gave him the name of my subscriber to the Liberator. "That is two miles beyond," he said. So after landing his other passengers, he took me on to the house of Mr. Hilles.
I confess I did not seem a very desirable visitor. The day had been warm, and the road dusty. I was covered with dust, and then I was not of the color fashionable in that neighborhood, for colored people were scarce in that part of the old Granite State. I saw in an instant, that though the weather was warm, I was to have a cool reception; but cool or warm, there was no alternative left me but to stay and take what I could get.
Mr. Hilles scarcely spoke to me, and from the moment he saw me jump down from the top of the stage, carpet-bag in hand, his face wore a troubled look. His good wife took the matter more philosophically, and evidently thought my presence there for a day or two could do the family no especial harm; but her manner was restrained, silent, and formal, wholly unlike that of anti-slavery ladies I had met in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
When tea time came, I found that Mr. Hilles had lost is appetite, and could not come to the table. I suspected his trouble was colorphobia, and though I regretted his malady, I knew his case was not necessarily dangerous; and I was not without some confidence in my skill and ability in healing diseases of that type, I was, however, so affected by his condition that I could not eat much of the pie and cake before me, and felt so little in harmony with things about me that I was, for me, remarkably reticent during the evening, both before and after the family worship, for Mr. Hilles was a pious man.
Sunday morning came, and in due season the hour for meeting. I had arranged a good supply of work for the day. I was to speak four times: at ten o'clock A. M., at one P. M., at five, and again at half-past seven in the evening.
When meeting time came, Mr. Hilles brought his fine phaeton to the door, assisted his wife in, and, although there were two vacant seats in his carriage, there was no room in it for me. On driving off from his door, he merely said, addressing me, "You can find your way to the town hall, I suppose?" "I suppose I can," I replied, and started along behind his carriage on the dusty road toward the village. I found the hall, and was very glad to see in my small audience the face of good Mrs. Hilles. Her husband was not there, but had gone to his church. There was no one to introduce me, and I proceeded with my discourse without introduction. I held my audience till twelve o'clock--noon--and then took the usual recess of Sunday meetings in country towns, to allow the people to take their lunch. No one invited me to lunch, so I remained in the town hall till the audience assembled again, when I spoke till nearly three o'clock, when the people again dispersed and left me as before. By this time I began to be hungry, and seeing a small hotel near, I went into it, and offered to buy a meal; but I was told "they did not entertain niggers there." I went back to the old town hall hungry and chilled, for an infant "New England northeaster" was beginning to chill the air, and a drizzling rain to fall. I saw that my movements were being observed, from the comfortable homes around, with apparently something of the feeling that children might experience in seeing a bear prowling about town. There was a grave-yard near the town hall, and attracted thither, I felt some relief in contemplating the resting places of the dead, where there was an end to all distinctions between rich and poor, white and colored, high and low.
While thus meditating on the vanities of the world and my own loneliness and destitution, and recalling the sublime pathos of the saying of Jesus, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head," I was approached rather hesitatingly by a gentleman, who inquired my name. "My name is Douglass," I replied. "You do not seem to have anyplace to stay while in town?" I told him I had not. "Well," said he, "I am no abolitionist, but if you will go with me I will take care of you." I thanked him, and turned with him towards his fine residence. On the way I asked him his name. "Moses Norris," he said. "What! Hon. Moses Norris?" I asked. "Yes," he answered. I did not for a moment know what to do, for I had read that this same man had literally dragged the Reverend George Storrs from the pulpit, for preaching abolitionism.
I, however, walked along with him and was invited into his house, when I heard the children running and screaming "Mother, mother, there is a nigger in the house, there's a nigger in the house"; and it was with some difficulty that Mr. Norris succeeded in quieting the tumult. I saw that Mrs. Norris, too, was much disturbed by my presence, and I thought for a moment of beating a retreat, but the kind assurances of Mr. Norris decided me to stay. When quiet was restored, I ventured the experiment of asking Mrs. Norris to do me a kindness. I said, "Mrs. Norris, I have taken cold, and am hoarse from speaking, and I have found that nothing relieves me so readily as a little loaf sugar and cold water." The lady's manner changed, and with her own hands she brought me the water and sugar. I thanked her with genuine earnestness, and from that moment I could see that her prejudices were more than half gone, and that I was more than half welcome at the fireside of this Democratic Senator.
I spoke again in the evening, and at the close of the meeting there was quite a contest between Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Hilles, as to which I should go home with. I considered Mrs. Hilles' kindness to me, though her manner had been formal; I knew the cause, and I thought, especially as my carpetbag was there, I would go with her. So giving Mr. and Mrs. Norris many thanks, I bade them good-bye, and went home with Mr. and Mrs. Hilles, where I found the atmosphere wondrously and most agreeably changed.
Next day, Mr. Hilles took me in the same carriage in which I did not ride on Sunday, to my next appointment, and on the way told me he felt more honored by having me in it, than he would be if he had the President of the United States. This compliment would have been a little more flattering to my self-esteem, had not John Tyler then occupied the Presidential chair."
posted 5/19/01 3:27 PM
Evidently, the life of an Abolitionist in the late 1830s, was not an easy one, even in a New England state such as New Hampshire!
The History of Bristol, New Hampshire reports that George Storrs spoke there at least twice, once in 1836, and again in 1837. It refers to him as a "much-hated Abolition agitator". In 1836, Storrs was "mobbed" by stone throwers. In 1837, he was agained "mobbed" while speaking "in the old Methodist Chapel".
The following excerpt comes from LIFE OF CHARLES SUMNER. Apparently, Storrs was arrested several times, since the incident mentioned in the post above occurred in Pittsfield, while this incident ocurred in Northfield.
"The same year (1835), in November, at Northfield, N. H., Rev. George Storrs, while in prayer, preliminary to an anti-slavery lecture, was dragged from his knees, on a warrant issued by a justice charging him with being "a common rioter and brawler." * ...
* The year 1835 may be called the year of mobs. Many had occurred the preceding year, but this was the culminating period. " A reign of terror prevailed throughout the free states. Churches and public halls were assaulted, life and limb were endangered, anti-slavery speakers were roughly handled, and often placed in circumstances of imminent peril."
The following short excerpt is taken from a lengthy fundraising letter, which was sent by American Abolitionists to British Abolitionists in the early 1840s.
This excerpt mentions 2 arrests. But whether these were the events in Pittsfield and Northfield, is not indicated.
"Rev. George Storrs was dragged from his knees while in prayer, by the Deputy Sheriff, because he had delivered an address against slavery. At another time, he was, for the sane offense arrested in the pulpit, by authority of a writ from a Justice, and the Governor of the State indirectly sanctioned the deed."
posted 5/19/01 3:46 PM
The Evangelical Union Anti-Slavery Society of the City of New York was organized on January 11, 1839.
The Excerpt below is the Society's Constitition. It indicates that George Storrs was on the Board of Managers, as well as a Vice President. This excerpt also tells us that Storrs was living in NYC in early 1839.
Whereas one-sixth part of the people of this country are held in slavery, considered as chattels personal, bought and sold as beasts of burden, denied, by law and custom, the privilege of reading the Holy Scriptures, compelled to break the commandments, and endure outrages at which humanity weeps, many of them being members of the Church of Christ and whereas slavery is a sin, and utterly inconsistent with the law of God, and totally irreconcilable with the Spirit of the Gospel; and whereas God hath said, open thy mouth for the dumb, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction; open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their trangressions, and the house of Jacob their sins, we do hereby associate ourselves together to promote the immediate and entire abolition of slavery, to abolish the unchristian prejudice against color, and to deliver the Churches from their defilements, and agree to be governed by the following CONSTITUTION.
ARTICLE I. This Society shall be called the EVANGELICAL UNION ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY of THE CITY of NEW YORK, and shall be auxiliary to the American Anti-Slavery Society.
ARTICLE II. The object of this Society shall be to aid in promoting the abolition of slavery in the United States, and especially to purify the Church at the North, as well as at the South, from its pollution, by appeals to the hearts and consciences of men, by warning, entreaty and earnest prayer, and the application of the Bible doctrine of IMMEDIATE REPENTANCE to the sin of slavery.
ARTICLE III. This Society shall aim to elevate the character and condition of the people of color by encouraging their intellectual, moral and religious improvement, and by removing public prejudice against them, that thus they may, according to their intellectual and moral worth, share an equality with their countrymen in every right and privilege, as men and Christians.
ARTICLE IV. Any member of an Evangelical Church, residing in the city of New York, who consents to the principles of this constitution, who contributes to the funds of this Society, and is not a slaveholder, may be a member of this Society, and shall be entitled to vote at its meetings.
ARTICLE V. The officers of this Society shall be a President, four Vice Presidents, a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary and a Treasurer, who, with one member from each Church represented in this Society, shall constitute a Board of Managers. They shall be annually elected by the members of the Society, and seven of them shall form a quorum for the transaction of business.
ARTICLE VI. The Board of Managers shall annually elect an Executive Committee, to consist of not less than five nor more than twelve members, who shall have power to enact their own by-laws, fill any vacancy in their body and in the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, direct the Treasurer in the application of all monies, and call special meetings of the Society. They shall make arrangements for all meetings of the Society, make an annual written report of their doings, the income, expenditures, and funds of the Society, and shall hold stated meetings, and adopt the most energetic measures in their power to advance the objects of the Society.
ARTICLE VII. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Society, or in his absence one of the Vice Presidents, or in their absence a President pro. tem.
The Corresponding Secretary shall conduct the correspondence of the Society.
The Recording Secretary shall notify all meetings of the Society and of the Executive Committees, and shall keep records of the same in separate books. The Treasurer shall collect the subscriptions, make payment at the direction of the Executive Committee, and present a written and audited account to accompany the Annual Report.
ARTICLE VIII. The Annual meeting of the Society shall be held each year, at such time and place as the Executive Committee may direct; when the accounts of the Treasurer shall be presented, the Annual Report read, appropriate speeches delivered, the officers chosen, and such other business transacted as shall be deemed expedient,—and quarterly and other meetings of the society may be held, at the discretion of the Executive Committee.
ARTICLE IX. All meetings of this Society, of its Board of Managers, and of the Executive committee shall be opened with prayer.
ARTICLE X. This Society shall use its influence to have the monthly concert of Prayer for the enslaved and for free people of color, (held on the last Monday of each month) observed by all its members.
ARTICLE XI. Any Society in the city of New York, founded upon the same principles as this Society, may become auxiliary thereto.
ARTICLE XII. This Constitution may be amended in any way not affecting its foundation principles at any meeting of the Society, by a vote of two thirds of the members present, provided the amendments proposed have been submitted in writing to the Executive Committee, one week, at least, previous to the meeting.
The E. U. A. S. Society of the city of New York was organized at Broadway Hall, Jan. 11th, 1839. Its officers are:
PRESIDENT. HON. JAMES. G. BIRNEY.
VICE PRESIDENTS. E. W. CHESTER, Esq.
REV. J. T. RAYMOND,
REV. GEORGE STORRS,
REV. E. A. FRAZER.
COR. SECRETARY, G. RATRIE PARBURT.
RECORDING SECRETARY, A. O. WILCOX.
TREASURER, WILLIAM JOHNSTON.
BOARD OF MANAGERS. Hon. James G. Birney. E. W. Chester, Esq. Rev. J. T. Raymond. Rev. George Storrs. Rev. E. A. Frazer. G. Ratrie Parburt. A. O. Wilcox. William Johnston.
Anthony Lane, Spring Street Church.
George M. Tracy, 4th Free Pres. Church. T. O. Buckmaster, Green St. Methodist Church. J. B. Wheedon, Central Pres. Church.
Rev. Duncan Dunbar, Baptist Church. E. A. Mclean, Duane St. Met. Church. Lewis Tappan, Broadway Tabernacle. D. H. Sand, Forsyth St. Met. Church.
John W. Hill, Seventh Pres. Church.
Obed Wickens, Vestry St. Met. Church. Robert Aikman, Associate Reformed Church. L. R. Osborn, Allen St. Met. Church. S. Gilbert, 3d Free Pres. Church. Rev. Z. Grinnell, Chatham Street Chapel. Rev. T. S. Wright, Frankfort St. Church. Rev. S. E. Cornish, William Thompson, Spring St. Bapt. Church. Stephen Angell, Sixth Avenue Church. Timothy Eato, Zion Congregation,
Cornish, Bethel Church.
Thomas Wildes, Second St. Met. Church. J. Simmons, Asbury Met. Church.
Doughty, John St. Met. Church.
LEWIS TAPPAN, Chairman. G. RATRIE PARBURT,
THOMAS O. BUCKMASTER, A. O. WILCOX, T. F. FIELD,
WILLIAM JOHNSTON, J. T. RAYMOND, G. M. TRACY, J. W. HILL,
The Executive Committee meet regularly the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.
The Monthly Concert of Prayer in this City, for the oppressed, is under the superintendence of three members of the Executive Committee, Messrs. Tappan, Johnston and Parburt. This means of grace, is especially recommended to the friends of the slave, throughout the country. If there are but two members of a church, or other praying persons, who desire the purification of Zion from the sin of slavery, let them not forget to appropriate the last Monday evening of each month, to this good cause, in prayer to Him who heard the cry of his ancient people in bondage, and came down and delivered them.
posted 5/19/01 4:01 PM
The following excerpt is from the "Minutes" of the 1838 Anti-Slavery Convention of Women.
Note that George Storrs' wife, Martha W. Storrs was a Vice President, as well as a member of the Business Committee. That this "Martha" was George's wife is confirmed by the facts that George Storrs' second wife was Martha "W"aterman Storrs, and they were living in Utica, NY, in 1938, which is the address given for "Martha".
The fact that George Storrs' wife was so prominent in the anti-slavery movement, in an age when freewomen barely had more legal rights than slaves, bares testimony to George's commitment to this social/political cause.
Also, note that Henry Grew's devoted daughter, Mary Grew, is also a member of the Business Committee, along with Martha Storrs!
Vice President Lucretia Mott was a fellow Philadelphian and friend of Mary and Henry Grew, who not only argued from the podium with Henry, during the 1854 Woman's Rights Convention, but she also eulogized Henry at his funeral in 1862.
Proceeding of an Anti-Slavery Convention of Women, assembled from various parts of the United States, in Pennsylvania Hall, in the city of Philadelphia, on Tuesday, the 15th of May, 1838.
At 10 o'clock, A. M. the Convention was called to order. On the nomination of a committee, appointed at preliminary meeting, on Monday, May 14th, the following officers were appointed:
MARY S. PARKER, of Boston, President.
Maria W. Chapman, of Boston, Mass.
Catharine M. Sullivan, do.
Susan Paul, do.
Mary A. W. Johnson, of Providence, R. I. Margaret Prior of the city of New York,
Sarah T. Smith, do.
Martha W. Storrs, of Utica, N. Y.
Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, Pa.
Mary W. Magill, of Buckingham, Pa.
Sarah M. Grimke, of Charleston, S. C.
Secretaries Anne W. Weston, of Boston, Mass. Martha V. Ball, do
Juliana A. Tappan, of city of New York,
Sarah Lewis, of Philadelphia, Pa.
Sarah M. Douglass, do.
Adjourned to meet in the same place at 4 o'clock, P. M.
Tuesday Afternoon, May 15. The Convention was called to order at 4 o'clock, P. M.
The President then read the nineteenth Psalm, and offered prayer.
On motion, the following persons were appointed a committee to prepare business for the Convention:
New York. Sarah T. Smith, Sarah R. Ingraham, Margaret Dye, Juliana A. Tappan, Martha W. Storrs, Miriam Hussey, Maine. Louisa Whipple, New Hampshire. Massachusetts. Lucy N. Dodge, Miriam B, Johnson, Maria W. Chapman Catharine M. Sullivan, Rhode Island. Harriet L. Truesdell, Waity A. Spencer, Pennsylvania. Mary Grew. Sarah M. Douglass, Hetty Burr, Martha Smith, Angelina E. G. Weld, South Carolina.
posted 5/19/01 9:39 PM
The following Excerpt is a "footnote" taken from History of Congregationalism, which is a detailed religious history book written sometime around 1850-80.
This "footnote" is significant due to the reference to George Storrs' problems with the M.E. Church hierarchy, as well as the reference to Storrs' evolving attitude towards "organized" religion. Also, considering that this is also the book's only significant reference to the M.E. Church seems to highlight the prominence held by George Storrs in the 1830s.
* The history of schism in the Methodist Episcopal church, which occurred about 1840, furnishes an illustration of the above remarks. One of the leaders in that schism, Rev. George Storrs, "defined his position," by stating his utter abhorrence of Episcopacy, and his cordial reception of Congregationalism, or Independency. Now, what brought him and his friends to that position? The historian of the M. E. church would without doubt say: The difficulty they experienced, in that church, in carrying out their favorite measures for the abolition of slavery. A person unacquainted with the whole affair, would very naturally ask: ? What connection is there between the cause assigned and the effect manifested? It is only by knowing the whole history of the difficulties, that we can answer this question. And even then, we shall be unable to perceive any connection between the cause, abstractly considered, and the effect practically developed. The whole story may be briefly thus told: Mr. Storrs and his clerical friends were easy under Methodist Episcopacy -though it deprives the people, as such, of their scriptural rights in the government of the church ? until they began to feel the power of the bishops and of the General Conference in controlling their own movements as abolitionists. The bishops presiding in the Yearly Conferences refused to put their anti-slavery motions; and the General Conferences passed decrees prohibiting "any travelling preacher from engaging in any agency for any object not approved by the General Conference." These things led the aggrieved brethren to inquire - " By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?" The result of this inquiry may be found in the "American Wesleyan Observer" for Aug. 13, 1840.
posted 2/15/03 1:52 PM
EMINENT WOMEN OF THE AGE
In May,1837, a National Woman's Anti-slavery Convention was called in New York, in which eight States were represented by
seventy-one delegates. The meetings were ably sustained through two days. The different sessions were opened by prayer and reading of the Scriptures, by the womien themselves, and a devout, earnest, and Christian spirit pervaded
all the proceedings. The debates, resolutions, speeches, and appeals were fully equal to those in ally conventions held by the men of that period.
Angelina Grimke was appointed in this convention to prepare an appeal for the slaves to the people of the free States, and a letter to John Quincy Adams, thanking him for his services in defending the right of petition for women and slaves, qualified with the regret that, by expressing himself adverse to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia," he did not sustain the cause of freedom and of God.
What man has done as the result of war, women asked to prevent war thirty years ago. In 1838 she was married to Theodore D. Weld, and settled in New Jersey. She is the mother of one daughter and two sons. Among those who took part in the debates of that convention, we find the names of Lydia Maria Child, Mary Grew, Henrietta Sargent, Sarah Pugh, Abby Kelley, Mary S. Parker, of Boston, who was president of the convention, Anne Weston, Deborah Shaw, Martha Storrs, Mrs. A. L. Cox, Rebecca B. Spring,, and Abigail Hopper Gibbons, a daughter of that noble Quaker, Isaac T. Hopper.
posted 10/18/03 1:22 PM
[This message has been edited on 12/03/2003]
posted 12/2/03 2:53 PM
[This message has been edited on 12/03/2003]
posted 3/28/04 6:29 AM
[This message has been edited on 09/14/2006]