Letter to Helen E. Garrison (August 16, 1847)

William Lloyd Garrison

Citation Information:  William Lloyd Garrison, Youngstown, (Ohio,) August 16, 1847, Letter to Helen E. Garrison, Walter (ed). The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison. Vol. III: No Union With Slave-Holders 1841-1846. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press, 1973, p. 510.

William Lloyd Garrison

To Helen E. Garrison

Youngstown, (Ohio,) August 16, 1847.

Dear Helen:

  1. I scribbled a few hasty lines for you at Pittsburgh, just before leaving that busy, though dingy and homely city — a city which so closely resembles the manufacturing towns in England, that I almost fancied I was once more on the other side of the Atlantic. So, too, the enthusiasm manifested at our meetings was altogether in the English style. For example, at the close of our last meeting, three tremendous cheers were given for [Frederick] Douglass, three for [Stephen S.] Foster, and three for myself. Every thing passed off in the most spirited and agreeable manner.
  2. On Friday, we took the steamer for Beaver, on the Ohio river, (which commences at Pittsburgh, the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers forming a confluence, and falling into it, just below the city,) and from thence rode to New Brighton, in an omnibus, some three or four miles, accompanied by several of our colored Pittsburgh friends, — J. B. Vashon and son, (George B.) Dr. Peck, Dr. Delaney, (editor of the Mystery, black as jet, and a fine fellow of great energy and spirit,) and others, where we had a most cordial welcome from Milo A. Townsend, and his wife and parents, Dr. Weaver, Timothy White, &c. &c. Milo is one of the truest reformers in the land, and wields a potent reformatory pen, but his organ of hope is not quite large enough. There seems to be no branch of reform, to which he has not given some attention. New Brighton is a small village of eight hundred inhabitants, but there are several other villages in its immediate neighborhood. There have been a good many lectures on slavery given in it by our leading anti-slavery lecturers, such as Stephen and A. K. Foster, [Charles C.] Burleigh, [Parker] Pillsbury, Douglass, &c.; but the people generally remain incorrigible. The secret is, they are much priest-ridden — thus confirming afresh the assertion of the prophet, “like people, like priest.” The Hicksite Quakers have a meeting-house here, but they are generally pro-slavery in spirit. No place could be obtained for our meeting, excepting the upper room of a large store, which was crowded to excess, afternoon and evening, several hundred persons being present, and many other persons not being able to obtain admittance. In the evening, there were some symptoms of pro-slavery rowdyism outside the building, but nothing beyond the yelling of young men and boys. Over our heads in the room, were piled up across the beams many barrels of flour; and while we were speaking, the mice were busy in nibbling at them, causing their contents to whiten some of our dresses, and thinking, perchance, that our speeches needed to be a little more floury (flowery.) The meetings were addressed at considerable length by Douglass and myself, and also by Dr. Delaney, who spoke on the subject of prejudice against color in a very witty and energetic manner. Douglass was well nigh run down, and spoke with much physical debility. Among others at the meeting was Sarah Jane Clarke, the poetess, who has long been interested in the anti-slavery cause, — a handsome and interesting young woman. I spent an hour at her father’s house, in company with Douglass and Milo. Dr. Clarke is in a very feeble state of health, and terribly afflicted with the tic doloreaux. Mrs. Clarke is a fine looking woman, and says she knew you in your childish days, as well as your father’s family at Brooklyn. She is related to Daniel Tyler, who now occupies the old homestead. It was very pleasant to meet with one who was acquainted with the Brooklyn people, and especially with those whose memories are so dear to us. Sarah [Benson] visited the spot last autumn.
  3. Saturday forenoon, Milo, Dr. Peck, Dr. Weaver, Charles Schirras, and myself, ascended a very steep eminence across the river, three hundred feet high, where we had a beautiful prospect, reminding me somewhat of the view from the top of Mount Holyoke at Northampton, though it was not so fine or extensive, of course. In descending, we went under the “Allum Rocks,” which presented a very wild and picturesque appearance.” On reaching Milo’s house, I was thoroughly tired out, and wet through and through by the perspiration. Indeed, throughout our journey, the weather has been uniformly and exceedingly warm, and I have been “wet to the skin” nearly all the time. To make frequent and long harangues, under such circumstances, is quite overpowering. I have never perspired so much in my life. The quantity of water thus exuded through the pores of the skin has astonished me, and I marvel that any thing is left of me in the shape of solid matter.
  4. Saturday afternoon; at 4 o’clock, Dr. Peck, (he is a fine, [very] promising colored young man, son of my old friend John Peck, now of Pittsburgh, and formerly of Carlisle,) who has lately graduated at the Rush Medical College at Chicago, Douglass and I, took passage for this place (a distance of forty miles) in a canal-boat, it being the first trip of the kind I had ever made on a canal. The day was excessively hot, and on the way, one of the horses was almost melted, and came within a hair’s-breadth of losing his life. Colored persons are not allowed, usually, to sit at the table at regular meals, even on board of these paltry canal boats; and we expected to have some difficulty. When the hour for supper arrived, the captain came to us, and said he had no objection to our sitting down together, but he did not know but some of the passengers would object. “We will go and see,” said I, with my feelings somewhat roused. Happily, no objection was made. Berths were also given to us all, but it was impossible for me to sleep in so confined an atmosphere, as the cabin was small, and thronged. The scenery on the route was very pretty. At 4 o’clock, yesterday morning, (Sunday,) we arrived here, and immediately came up to the “Mansion House,” kept by N. Andrews. It is a “rum tavern,” but the landlord (strange to say) is friendly to our cause, and generally entertains the abolition lecturers without charge. This world presents some queer paradoxes, and this is one of them. Yesterday, we held three meetings in a beautiful grove, which were well attended. During the day, the burden fell chiefly upon me, as Douglass was entirely exhausted and voiceless. I am afraid his old throat complaint, the swelling of the tonsils, is upon him. He left for Salem after dinner, accompanied by Samuel Brooke, a distance of forty miles.” J. W. Walker, S. S. Foster, and Dr. Peck, helped to fill up the gap at the meetings. To-day, I leave for New Lyme, (40 miles off,) where the annual meeting commences on Wednesday, and will continue for three days. Thus far, I have stood the fatigues of the tour better than I anticipated. As yet, I have not had a word of intelligence from home. I trust you have written to me at Salem. With many kisses for you and the children, and loving remembrances to all the friends, I remain

Ever yours,

Wm. Lloyd Garrison.