Category Archives: Arguing for Justice

1817 (Arguing for Justice) Jesse Torrey, Jr.

Jesse Torrey (House Divided)

Sources
Important primary sources include Jesse Torrey’s A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery, in the United States (1817) and The Moral Instructor and Guide to Virtue and Happiness (1819). Torrey’s book was published in London as American Slave Trade in 1822.

Places to Visit
No structures or sites related to Jesse Torrey, Jr. exist. Torrey was born in New Lebanon, New York.

Images
Some of the images that Torrey created and published in A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery, in the United States (1817) are in the slideshow below.

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1832 (Arguing for Justice) Thomas Roderick Dew

Thomas Roderick Dew (College of William and Mary)

Life & Family
Thomas Roderick Dew did not have any children. He married Natilia Hay in 1845, but died the following year in Paris, France.

Sources
After Nat Turner’s revolt in 1832, Dew published Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature, 1831-1832. In 1853 it was republished in The Pro-Slavery Argument, as maintained by the most distinguished Writers of the Southern States. In addition, Dew’s lectures at the College of William and Mary were published as Digest of the Laws, Customs, Manners, and Institutions of the Ancient and Modern Nations (1853). Dew also wrote several other books, including Lectures on the Restrictive System (1829).  His correspondence is in the Dew Family Papers at the Earl Gregg … Read the rest

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1840 (Arguing for Justice) Solomon Northrup

Solomon Northrup (House Divided)

Sources
A key primary source is Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853 (1853). In addition, see “An Account of Solomon Northup” from the New York Times on January 20, 1853 and an advertisement for Northrup’s book in the August 26, 1853 issue of the Liberator. You can read other accounts in the  “North American Slave Narratives” collection at the  Documenting the American South project.

Places to Visit
A historical marker on Northrup is located in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Images
An image is available on Northup’s House Divided profile. Northrup’s Twelve Years a Slave also included several imagesRead the rest

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1848 (Arguing for Justice) Edmondson Family

Edmondson Sisters (Washington Post Magazine)

Sources
A key secondary source is Mary Kay Ricks’ Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad (2007). In addition, a short essay from the Washington Post Magazine has been reposted on this flickr page. Other sources include The Case of the Edmondson Sisters (1848) and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Edmondson Family and the Capture of the Schooner Pearl (1856).

Places to Visit
The Edmondson sisters were imprisoned at the Bruin Slave Jail, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and located at 1707 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1854 Harriet Beecher Stowe explained in The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin that she used information about the jail to help … Read the rest

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1850 (Arguing for Justice) William Still

William Still (House Divided)

Sources
A key primary source is William Still’s The Underground Rail Road (1872). In addition, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has Still’s “Journal C of Station No. 2 of the Underground Railroad, 1852-1857” and the “Minute Book of the Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia.” have been digitized and are available online. Several historians have focused on Still’s work as an abolitionist, including Larry Gara’s “William Still and the Underground RailroadPennsylvania History (1961) and Stephen G. Hall’s “To Render the Private Public: William Still and the Selling of the Underground Rail Road,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (2003). Other important sources on the Underground Railroad include Robert Clemens Smedley’s History of Read the rest

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1854 (Arguing for Justice) Anthony Burns

Sources
Newspaper articles and other publications related to the event were published in The Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns in1854. Other important primary sources include Charles Emery Stevens’ Anthony Burns: A History (1856), E. H. Gray’s Assaults Upon Freedom!  A Discourse, Occassioned by the Rendition of Anthony Burns (1854), Theodore Parker’s The New Crime Against Humanity: A Sermon Preached at the Music Hall, in Boston, on Sunday, June 4, 1854 (1854) , and Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s Massachusetts In Mourning: A Sermon, Preached in Worcester, on Sunday, June 4, 1854 (1854).  Henry David Thoreau also responded to Burns’ situation with an essay entitled “Slavery in Massachusetts” in 1854. In addition, the Massachusetts Historical Society has several collections with  material related to Burns’ case, such as … Read the rest

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1854 (Arguing for Justice) Joshua Glover

Joshua Glover (House Divided)

Sources
The Wisconsin Historical Society has several primary sources related to Glover, including a 1852 Reward Advertisement from the St. Louis (MO) Republican and an April 1854 article from the (Stevens Point) Wisconsin Pinery. Also see Henry E. Legler’s 1898 essay, “Rescue of Joshua Glover, a Runaway Slave.” Key secondary sources include H. Robert Baker’s The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War (2006) and Ruby West Jackson and Walter T. McDonald’s Finding Freedom: The Untold Story of Joshua Glover, Runaway Slave (2007). 

Places to Visit
A historical marker about Glover’s rescue is located at the intersection of East Kilbourn Avenue and North Jackson Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

ImagesRead the rest

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1854 (Arguing for Justice) Moncure Conway

Moncure Conway (House Divided)

Narrative
Though his family connections alone guaranteed a bright legal future, the young Moncure Conway was an indifferent law student. Despite the urging of his numerous cousins to take up his place as an active defender of the South, he was already having significant problems justifying his beloved Virginia’s maintenance of slavery. Despite this, he served in 1850 as the secretary of the Southern Rights Association in Warrenton, and seemed in his momentary embracing of the recently published racial theories of Louis Agassiz to be searching for any justification for human bondage. Despairing of the law, he pleased his parents at last when on his nineteenth birthday he became a Methodist circuit rider preacher, assigned to the Rockville, Maryland area. During … Read the rest

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1856 (Arguing for Justice) Joseph C. Bustill

Narrative
Joseph Bustill was a teacher and an Underground Railroad agent from Harrisburg who helped create a “Fugitive Aid Society” in Pennsylvania’s capital city during the 1850s.  He is one of the few agents who left behind operational letters, including this one to William Still from 1856 that refers to the escape of four adult slaves and two children (“four large and two small hams”).

Life & Family
The Bustill family were prominent black Quakers from Philadelphia. Joseph Bustill was the great uncle of legendary singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

Sources
Important primary sources include three letters that Bustill sent William Still in 1856. These letters were later published in Still’s  Underground Rail Road (1872). You can also read them on House … Read the rest

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1857 (Arguing for Justice) Harriet Robinson Scott

Harriet Robinson Scott (House Divided)

Sources
The online Dred Scott Case Collection (Missouri State Archives & Washington University) contains over 100 documents and provides information on trials from the first Circuit Court Case in 1846 to the Supreme Court decision in 1857. In addition, the St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project created the “Freedom Suits Case Files, 1814-1860,” which has 301 petitions from individuals who attempted to prove in court that they were free. Other books and pamphlets are online at the Library of Congress’ Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 collection and at Cornell University’s Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection. In addition, you can read the full opinions of all Supreme Court justices in Benjamin Chew Howard’s Report of the Decision Read the rest

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1858 (Arguing for Justice) Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (House Divided)

Life & Family
Abraham Lincoln was a southerner who led the North during the Civil War. Born on February 12, 1809, the same day as scientist Charles Darwin, Lincoln began his life on a farm in Kentucky before moving as a young child to Indiana and eventually to Illinois. He settled in Springfield, married Mary Todd, and raised four boys (two of whom died before he did). Lincoln was six-feet, four inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. He was well respected as a politician and attorney and well-liked for his story-telling abilities. Lincoln served one term in Congress where he gained notice for opposing the Mexican War but otherwise had no experience in Washington before becoming president. During the 1850s, … Read the rest

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1859 (Arguing for Justice) William Howard Day

William Howard Day (House Divided)

Sources
A short profile of Day starts on page 366 of G. F. Richings’ Evidences of Progress among Colored People (1902). In November 1865 Day delivered a speech at Harrisburg’s Grand Review, which was organized to honor African Americans who served in the Civil War. You can read more about this event in an excerpt from Ceremonies at the Reception of Welcome to the Colored Soldiers of Pennsylvania (1865).

Places to Visit
You can find a historical marker about the November 1865 USCT Grand Review that Day helped organize in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A historical marker about Day is also located in Steelton, Pennsylvania at the intersection of Lincoln Street and Carlisle Street. While the William Howard Day Cemetery is also … Read the rest

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1860 (Arguing for Justice) Hutchinson Family Singers

Hutchinson Family Singers, 1845 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Sources
Important primary sources include the collection at the Wadleigh Memorial Public Library in Milford, New Hampshire and Dale Cockrell’s  Excelsior: Journals of the Hutchinson Family Singers, 1842-1846 (1989). In addition, Joshua Hutchinson published A Brief Narrative of the Hutchinson Family in 1874 and John Hutchinson recalled his experiences in The Story of the Hutchinsons in 1896  (Vol. 1 ; Vol. 2). While Joshua’s work offers “intimate vignettes” of the singers, historian Scott E. Gac cautions that John Hutchinson’s “memoir… is a less accurate but entertaining reconstruction of the group.” In addition, a collection at the Wadleigh Memorial Public Library in Milford, New Hampshire has sheet music and newspaper clippings about the Hutchinsons. Important … Read the rest

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1860 (Arguing for Justice) Edmund Ruffin

Edmund Ruffin (House Divided)

Life & Family
In late 1860 South Carolina Governor Gist William Henry Gist referred to the “John Brown Pike” in his message to the state legislature. As the Charleston (SC) Mercury reported, Ruffin gave this pike to South Carolina to display in January 1860 and included a note which read in part: “Sample of the favors designed for us by our NORTHERN BRETHREN.” When John Brown attacked Harpers Ferry in October 1859, he brought pikes with him as a way to arm the slaves who rebelled.

Sources
Key primary sources include Ruffin’s The Political Economy of Slavery (1857), William K. Scarborough’s three volume Diary of Edmund Ruffin (1972-89), and David F. Allmendinger’s Incidents of My Life: Edmund Ruffin’s Autobiographical EssaysRead the rest

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1861 (Arguing for Justice) Kate Stone

Kate Stone (Louisiana State University)

Narrative
Kate Stone was twenty-years-old when Fort Sumter fell to Confederate forces. She was thrilled. Stone was an ardent southern nationalist from Louisiana who lived on a large plantation (Brokenburn) with many slaves and an extended family, including at least two brother who would die in the Confederate army. Within a month after Sumter, Stone began a diary the she kept for seven years. The material was full of biting insights and wise comments. Stone lived through Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign in 1863 and feared the arrival of black troops into the region. She and her family fled to Texas in 1863 and lived there until the end of the war. The young plantation mistress was suitably unimpressed by Texans and … Read the rest

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