Abel Brown, Abolitionist

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About the Book

Abel Brown was born November 9, 1810, in Springfield, Massachusetts, and moved with his parents to New York State at age 11. As a young man, he entered the Christian ministry and soon felt called to action in the abolitionist movement. Brown was an eloquent voice crying out against slavery, publishing letters and reports in The Liberator and other periodicals with abolitionist leanings, as well as in his own paper, The Tocsin of Liberty (later The Albany Patriot). The founder and corresponding secretary of the Eastern New York Anti-Slavery Society, he traveled widely, preaching the message of abolition, often accompanied by fugitive slaves.
Brown’s death one day before his 34th birthday was a blow to New York’s abolitionist movement and devastating for his wife, Catharine, who published this biography in 1849 as a way of keeping his memory alive. The work draws heavily on Abel Brown’s correspondence, journals, and newspaper articles, allowing him to tell the story in his own words. This newly edited version preserves the 1849 original while offering clarification and context. The result is an unusual first-hand look at America’s anti-slavery movement. Appendices contain excerpts from additional correspondence and sermons of Abel Brown.

About the Author(s)

Tom Calarco is a professional writer whose antislavery research is widely recognized. He was awarded the 2008 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize for advancing the knowledge and study of the Underground Railroad. He lives in Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Catharine S. Brown
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 34 illustrations, appendices, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2378-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Notes on the Editing      7

Introduction      9

I. His descent—Birth—Natural activity and love of business—His Guardian Sister—His experience of a new life—and choice of Profession      11

II. Family Letters—Christian Experience      14

III. Studies Divinity at Hamilton—Continuation of Correspondence with his Sister—Letter to his Parents and Brother      21

IV. Second year at Hamilton—His Practical Efforts in the Cause of Sabbath Schools—Missionary Letters—Journal      29

V. Continuation of Letters and Journal—Third year at Hamilton—The Mission Family      37

VI. Labors in Western and Central N. Y. for the promotion of Sabbath Schools—Leaves Hamilton and studies at Homer—Becomes a Lecturing Agent in the Cause of Temperance      45

VII. Preaches at Westfield, N. Y.—Trials and Persecution—Is publicly whipped, &c.—Labors in Pennsylvania—Lectures in behalf of the American Anti-Slavery Society—An Epistolary Address to Senior Class of Hamilton Institution      63

VIII. Settlement at Beaver—Receives Appointment of Agency from the A.S. Society of Western Pennsylvania—Persecution—An attempt to throw him into the River Ohio—“Delivers the Spoiled from the Hand of the Spoiler”—Efforts to advance the Cause of the Slave in his own Denomination      72

IX. Receives Appointment of Agency for the Western Education Society—Leaves Pennsylvania—Visits Massachusetts—Continues to Labor in the Cause of the Slave      81

X. Commission from the Massachusetts Abolition Society—Settles at Northampton—Private Correspondence—Death of his Sister—Letter to C. P. Grosvenor      85

XI. His Anti-Slavery Position—The Political Contest—Correspondence—Leaves Northampton—Subsequent Settlement at Sand Lake, N.Y.—Continuation of Letters      91

XII. Removal to Albany—Labors in behalf of Refugees—Engages as Publisher of the Tocsin of Liberty—Formation of the Eastern N.Y. Anti-Slavery Society—Fugitive Slave cases      106

XIII. The Slave Hunter—Scenes of Outrage—Rights of Colored Citizens invaded—No Legal Redress—Interference of Mr. Brown in behalf of the injured—Consequent Indictment—Proposition to Lecture—Mob Elements Combined—Mr. Brown is burned in Effigy, &c.—Clay Indictment—Circular—Explanatory Statements—Indefinite Postponement of Trial      121

XIV. Scenes of Domestic Affliction—Death of his Wife—the two White fugitives—Report of Vigilance Committee—Lewis Washington, the Fugitive Slave Lecturer—Mr. Brown visits Massachusetts—Our first Acquaintance—Correspondence      135

XV. Visit to New York—Subsequent Marriage—Anniversary of the Eastern N.Y.A.S. Society—City Association in behalf of the oppressed—Labors in New York—Convention in New Jersey—Phrenological Character of Mr. Brown given by O.S. Fowler      146

XVI. The Slave Musician—A Western Tour—Letters—Visits Massachusetts—Return to Albany—Continuation of Efforts in behalf of the Slave—Mr. Brown’s Political Views—His continued interest in the Temperance Cause—Letter to the Mayor of Albany      152

XVII. Letters—Anniversary of Eastern N. Y. Anti-Slavery Society—Mr. Brown visits Western N.Y.—Labors for the Cause in various counties—Riotous scenes in Troy—My own personal Observations of his views and character      178

XVIII. The Family Circle—The Visit of Alvan Stewart—His Letter—Our Parting—His last Journey for the Slave—His Visit at Rochester—Free Mission Meeting—The last Letters—His Sickness and Death—Correspondence of the Mosher Family—Effusions of Grief—Funeral Services—An Obituary Notice—Resolutions—Monumental Inscriptions—Conclusion      201

Appendix I: Excerpt from “Impressions and Incidents Connected with the Life of Rev. Charles B. Ray”      217

Appendix II: Excerpt from Reply of C.S.B. Spear of Passaic, N.J., to Wilbur Siebert      220

Index      223

Book Reviews

“a new edition with annotations and illustrations that shed more light on a key founder of Albany’s Underground Railroad…new insights…very unusual to find a firsthand account from that period…real, authentic view about someone who was involved in the Underground Railroad”—TimesUnion.com; “Abel Brown is important because he established the Eastern New York Antislavery Society, two abolitionist newspapers, and the Albany Vigilance Committee that aided fugitives—all significant contributions in the struggle against slavery”—Stanley Harrold, South Carolina State University; “Very unusual to find a firsthand account from that period…real, authentic view about someone who was involved in the Underground Railroad”—Paul Stewart.