a book about Harrisburg...

by George F. Nagle


Table of Contents

Study Areas:



Free Persons of Color

Underground Railroad

The Violent Decade

US Colored Troops

Civil War


Chapter Seven

Welcoming the Anti-slavery Pilgrims

The increasing tolerance, if not acceptance, of anti-slavery sentiment in Harrisburg during this period led directly to an increase in visiting anti-slavery lecturers through the next decade. Not all were associated with the organized anti-slavery societies. Some were on moral reform and temperance tours, but even these traveling agents brought with them an anti-slavery message. More importantly, these traveling agents provided connections, brought news, and strengthened ties between anti-slavery activists in the midstate.

One early example is the touring moral reform advocate identified only by the pen name "Origen" in his descriptive letters to the editor of the Colored American newspaper. This correspondent was Daniel Alexander Payne, an African American preacher from East Troy, New York, who had studied for the ministry in Gettysburg, under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel Schmucker. Payne's primary interest was in the religious health of the communities he visited, but like the editors of the newspaper with which he corresponded, he also concerned himself with literary development, moral elevation, and the abolition of slavery. He carried a supply of anti-slavery tracts, supplied by the American Anti-Slavery Society, which he distributed wherever he found an interest and a need.

Payne's circuit in Pennsylvania began in Philadelphia on 15 August 1838, where he visited with James Forten, Charles W. Gardiner, and Robert Purvis, among others. His stay in Philadelphia included visits to numerous churches, at which he listened to the sermons of some of his hosts, and he attended several literary improvement meetings that featured the reading of anti-slavery periodicals and the singing of anti-slavery hymns.

From Philadelphia, his tour took him via railroad to Columbia, where he has warmly welcomed by Stephen Smith and William Whipper, at whose homes he stayed until 3 September, and from Columbia, he took the stagecoach to York. Although Reverend Payne was disappointed that he could find no evidence of any self-improvement societies in York, he had nothing but praise for his hosts, William C. Goodridge and a Mr. White.

William C. Goodridge was already well established in that town when Payne visited, having begun in 1824 as a barber, then building and diversifying his business until he owned several properties, including a stylish brick home on East Philadelphia Street. Payne, who was until that day a stranger to Goodridge, praised his host as a man who "commands both my respect and gratitude."

He only stayed in York a little more than one day before taking the stage for Gettysburg, a location that had been home to him in prior years and held precious memories. Here, he distributed anti-slavery publications to students at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, where he had studied, and took in an anti-slavery sermon delivered by his mentor and dear friend, Dr. Samuel Simon Schmucker. Samuel Schmucker was founder of both Pennsylvania College and the seminary, and was a dedicated abolitionist.

Payne stayed for a considerable time in Gettysburg, partially because he became ill for a period of thirteen days, which confined him to his room. When he was sufficiently recovered, he spent his time visiting old friends and renewing acquaintances. Before he left Gettysburg, he gave a copy of William Yates' Rights of Colored Men to the local moral improvement society.

On 25 September, he was driven in a carriage to Carlisle, where he stayed with William Webb. Here, he visited the local school for African American children, and witnessed the operation of the Juvenile Anti-Slavery Society as it perused editions of the Colored American.80 Payne later traveled back to, and spent considerable time in, Carlisle, where he kept a close friendship with barber John Peck, a noted abolitionist activist.

In all these places, Reverend Payne made immediate contact with local African American anti-slavery activists. Although his letters do not indicate such, it is very likely he shared news of activities, especially news of the movement of fugitive slaves, from one town to the next. From Philadelphia to Gettysburg and Carlisle, all these contacts and activists were involved with not only the political spectrum of anti-slavery agitation, but with the secretive and illegal work of providing aid to freedom seekers. Although Payne did not include Harrisburg on his tour, other anti-slavery agents did.

William H. Burleigh, brother of Charles C. Burleigh, spoke in Harrisburg on 28 January 1838, while in town for the first meeting of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. He went to hear a colonization address at a Harrisburg church, delivered by Dr. Booth, an agent of the Pennsylvania Colonization Society. Following the address, Booth invited members of the audience to challenge any inaccuracies in his speech. He was taken aback when Burleigh, whose views Booth had substantially misrepresented during his speech, raised his hand and offered to correct the impressions for the rest of the listeners. Booth refused to allow Burleigh to speak.

More than a year later, in the summer of 1839, Charles B. Ray visited Harrisburg to solicit subscribers for the Colored American, lodging with Junius Morel. He made valuable contacts with the local white abolitionists during his stay, although he was disappointed in the response from the African American community. Ray had similar experiences when he traveled through Lancaster and York, prior to arriving in Harrisburg. He characterized the African American citizenry of both places as "very respectable, industrious and in tolerable circumstances," but he complained that they were still "too timid, too much afraid of the storm."81

Of course, Ray was referring to their political involvement and not their Underground Railroad activism. Both communities were already involved in extensive covert efforts to shelter fugitive slaves. He was also reporting from a distinctly prejudiced viewpoint, having been unable to find enough sorely needed subscribers to his newspaper. In Harrisburg, only Morel and barber Charles Dorris were agents, while in Carlisle, William Webb acted as his agent. Junius Morel, by 1840, also paid for the subscription of a J. Collins in Highspire.

If political awareness could be measured by the availability of anti-slavery publications, Harrisburg, Columbia, and Carlisle were certainly not lacking. During that time, William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator was being circulated by a few anti-slavery people through town and was available at George Chester's oyster cellar, while the Mystery, Martin R. Delany's short-lived newspaper, was available from William Thompson in town. In previous years, Samuel Cornish's Freedom's Journal was available from Stephen Smith in Columbia, and from John B. Vashon (before he relocated to Pittsburgh) in Carlisle. In the coming years, other abolitionist newspapers would make their appearance in Harrisburg, with the North Star being perhaps the most popular, having about ten regular subscribers by 1849.


Women on the Lecture Circuit

The influence of women in the anti-slavery movement had been increasing steadily, and in April 1845 a delegation of American Antislavery Society speakers, including two women, Abby Kelley (later Abby Kelley Foster) and Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock, were scheduled to speak over a course of several days at the courthouse in Harrisburg. The novelty of hearing women lecturers attracted many people in the borough, and the first day of lectures proceeded without incident. As word of the event spread through town, though, some were attracted to the venue for different reasons.

The crowd that gathered on the evening of the second day included a large number of ladies, but also a considerable number of persons who felt that public addresses by females, particularly on this topic, was unseemly and inappropriate. Instead of challenging their points or raising objections to the speakers and their topic in the public forum of the courthouse, though, the opponents of the anti-slavery speakers opted for more disrespectful tactics. Halfway through the address of Jane Hitchcock, "a party of rowdies several times raised false alarms of fire, in order to disturb the meeting." The male speakers traveling with Kelley and Hitchcock were similarly treated. Taking the rostrum next was Benjamin S. Jones, a Quaker lecturer from Philadelphia, who was rudely hissed by people in the audience and frequently interrupted in his address by one particular person in the gallery.

The agents, and those who genuinely wanted to hear them speak, endured about a half-hour of this type of behavior from the anti-abolition hecklers before the entire meeting abruptly ended when a "shower of eggs" was thrown through one of the windows, hitting Hitchcock and several persons in the audience. If the egg on their clothes was not enough of an insult to deter the agency speakers from continuing, a more sinister threat surfaced the next day, and it specifically targeted Abby Kelley and Jane Hitchcock, both of whom were promised a tar and feathering and a dunking as punishment for further speeches.82 The threats, fortunately, were not carried out, but the message was abundantly clear: women abolitionists would be given no pass due to their sex from the Harrisburg pro-slavery crowd.

Three years later, in March 1848, Abby Kelley Foster -- the AAS agent had married fellow abolitionist Stephen Foster shortly after her first stormy appearance in Harrisburg -- returned. The female abolitionist was fresh from her work at spreading the radical abolitionist word in Ohio, and had gained a national reputation by this time, not only for her oration, but also for her stubborn devotion to the cause in the face of more than ten years of belittling remarks, insults, and threats. She had not been cowed by the rowdy crowd in 1845 and she would not be kept out of the borough by the threat of violence three years later.

Her second appearance produced no dramatic protests in spite of, or perhaps because of, her fearless attitude. If threats would not stop her, insults would have to suffice. Her appearance in town was noticed by a correspondent for the Philadelphia newspaper, the U.S. Gazette, whose editors caustically remarked, "We wonder if she knows how to broil a steak or knit stockings."

Little had changed, it seemed, in the minds and attitudes of her detractors, although much had changed locally. Women were fast becoming a major force in all aspects of the operations of national and local anti-slavery organizations. One of their key roles, taking a cue from their British counterparts, was in fundraising. In 1849, when the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society reported on their Fourteenth Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Fair, they were able to credit the women of Harrisburg for the donation of much needed supplies.


Martin R. Delany Returns

Harrisburg was now also becoming a regular stop on the anti-slavery lecture circuit. Martin R. Delany, the fiery abolitionist orator and classically educated son of a Virginia slave father, spoke in Harrisburg in November 1849. Harrisburg's African American residents were already familiar with his work and his views, as his newspaper, the Mystery, had been available in town when it was in publication, from William Thompson, one of Delany's local agents.

In a letter published in the North Star, Delany detailed a speaking itinerary that included Carlisle, Harrisburg, Columbia, Lancaster, Reading, and York, all in the space of one week, although when he actually traveled the circuit, he expanded his time in several spots.

He ended up staying for five days, November 14 through 18, in Harrisburg, a place in which he had spent some time as a youth. He spoke on three separate occasions during his stay. Delany's hosts at this time were John F. and Hannah Williams. John Williams was a young barber in town who was doing quite well for himself and his family, having already purchased his own home in the North Ward of the borough. Delany noted that the Williams family was always ready to take in an "anti-slavery pilgrim," and in his case, it proved to be a great blessing.

Delany had arrived in town on the train near midnight on the fourteenth, and sought a room at local hotel. He was rudely turned away from several hotels because of his color, and only agreed to stay with the Williams family when it became apparent to him that no Harrisburg hoteliers would rent a room to an African American traveler. The Williams family received him, he wrote, "the night that stupid ignorance and wicked prejudice debarred me from shelter."

While in town, Delany had many opportunities to observe the African American school run by teacher John Wolf, with whom he was already acquainted and whom he praised as a "gentleman of fine attainments." Wolf, he observed, credited William Whipper of Columbia, another one of his trusted friends and a former agent of the Mystery, as a mentor, being indebted to the Lancaster County entrepreneur and civil rights activist "for the direction of his mind." In fact, John Wolf had taught school in Columbia for three years before coming to Harrisburg, which is probably how he made the acquaintance of William Whipper. Delany commented, "This of itself is a recommendation to him."

Delany's audiences in all locations consisted principally of the African American residents of these towns, and his message was one of self-reliance. He wrote, "It is necessary to make our people dependent upon themselves, and cease to look to others to do for them….My constant advice to our brethren shall be—Elevate yourselves!" He could have taken no better model for his rhetoric than the John F. Williams family.

The following year, on 10 August 1850, abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond spoke in Harrisburg. Remond, along with his sister Sarah Parker Remond, were freeborn African Americans, highly educated, and the children of civil rights activists in Salem, Massachusetts. They were also the first African American traveling agents for the American Anti-Slavery Society.83 Remond's audience, unlike the audience to whom Delany lectured, would be largely white, and he knew he could look forward to a chilly reception by the foes of abolition in Harrisburg. He knew this because he had heard about the experiences of one who had come before. He was not the first African American orator to lecture to a hostile white crowd in Harrisburg. That distinction fell to a then little-known escaped slave turned abolitionist named Frederick Douglass.


Douglass and Garrison--
A "Shameful" Reception in Harrisburg

When William Lloyd Garrison proposed, in the pages of the Liberator, to pay a visit to "our friends and coadjutors at the West," by which he meant the Western Anti-Slavery Society in Ohio, Harrisburg's anti-slavery activists became energized with the prospect of seeing the man who had done so much for the cause. They knew that the route to Ohio would logically pass through Harrisburg, so their chance of seeing Garrison, who up to this point had never visited the central Pennsylvania area, was very good.

The level of excitement rose when it was announced that Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who was now an anti-slavery lecturer, would accompany Garrison on this trip. Douglass had just published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, two years before, and was just beginning to become known as a powerful speaker outside of New England anti-slavery circles. His new notoriety was thanks to the coverage that Garrison had provided in the pages of the Liberator, and he was just returning from a very successful tour of Great Britain, where he championed the immediate emancipation cause to British abolitionists. Douglass' star was clearly rising, and the possibility that Harrisburg's citizen's might induce him and Garrison to not only stop in town, but also deliver an address while here led several black citizens to call for a meeting to discuss the idea.

They agreed to meet in the Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion church, which by this time had been relocated from the log building at Third and Mulberry streets to a plot purchased by the congregation from the Forster family, on the southeast corner of South Street and Tanner Alley. It was here, in the small brick church building, that a number of people gathered on 20 July 1847 "to take into consideration the propriety of inviting W. L. Garrison and F. Douglass to pay them a visit on their route to the West."

The Reverend David Stevens had resumed his post as pastor when the congregation moved to its new home, and it is likely he was in attendance at the meeting. One influential Harrisburg black activist was not in attendance. Junius Morel, who had helped to organize local African Americans in their opposition to the pro-slave forces, and who had forged a mutually respected alliance with local white abolitionists, had moved to Brooklyn, New York a few years prior. His place as leader of the African American anti-slavery crowd was amply filled by the pastors and leading members of Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion and the Bethel A.M.E. churches, many of whom were in attendance on this day.

Three local men were appointed to a committee to draft resolutions requesting a visit from the famed anti-slavery men. One of the men, the "athletic and stately" Edward Bennett, had been a community leader and a leading member of this church for many years, and in fact still maintained his home at Third and Mulberry streets, in the old neighborhood. At about forty-three years of age, he was the oldest of the three appointees. Thomas Early, the second-eldest appointee, was about twenty-nine years old and newly married. John F. Williams, at age twenty-seven, was the youngest of the draft committee members. He had only been married for about a year, and had a one-year-old son at home.

All three men were dedicated anti-slavery activists. Williams was the person who would open up his home to Martin R. Delany two years later. The resolutions that were written by Bennett, Early, and Williams, and which were unanimously adopted by those in attendance, were complimentary toward the efforts of both Douglass and Garrison, and were straightforward in requesting that they "stop a day or two," in Harrisburg.

In addition to sending a copy of the proceedings for publication in the Liberator and the Mystery, the resolutions also created a separate committee of fifteen persons "to correspond with the above named guests…and to make each arrangement as the occasion may require." Those arrangements included finding a place for the travelers to stay while in town, which required making preparations with Harrisburg's white abolitionists.84

All preparations were duly made, Garrison graciously accepted the invitation, and on Saturday, 7 August, the anti-slavery proponents in Harrisburg made ready to receive their invited guests. The day was heavily overcast, as the rain that had begun on Friday afternoon continued throughout the morning and into Saturday afternoon. Toward three o'clock p.m., a delegation of local citizens met on the platform of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station to await the arrival of Garrison and Douglass, who had departed on the cars from Philadelphia that morning. Unknown to them, Frederick Douglass had already met a man from Harrisburg in the train before it even left the station, and it was not a pleasant encounter.

Douglass had boarded the train in Philadelphia before Garrison arrived and took a seat next to the window to await his companion. As he was looking out of the window he was "suddenly accosted in a slave driving tone and ordered to 'get out of that seat,' by a man who had a lady with him, and who might have claimed the right to eject any other passenger for his accommodations with as much propriety." Douglass said he remained calm as well as seated, and told the man, "I do not feel bound to give up my seat to any one, gentleman or lady, unless asked in a proper manner to do so."

The man, who Garrison thought was probably drunk, seized Douglass by the collar and pulled him out of the seat. This was no small feat as Frederick Douglass was quite an imposing man. One of his biographers described him as "Over six feet in height, a strong and muscular physique, broad shouldered." He could easily have defended himself and probably would have succeeded in driving the man from the train, yet to do so would have certainly caused his arrest and would have brought the trip to Ohio to a premature halt. Instead, Douglass rose and faced his assailant, mustered all of his self-control, and in a calm and dignified tone told the man that he was a bully. The two men exchanged a few more angry words before Douglass terminated the confrontation by taking a seat in the next railway car, where Garrison joined him.

Upon inquiry, Garrison determined that Douglass' tormentor was John Adams Fisher, a socially and politically prominent lawyer from Harrisburg. Though Fisher remained on the same train with the pair, he had no additional confrontation with either of them.85 The incident, however, would prove to be a presage of the coming evening.

The train pulled in to the Market Street station at Harrisburg at three o'clock in the afternoon, and Garrison and Douglass were greeted on the platform by a group that included Dr. William Wilson Rutherford, Agnes Crain, and John Wolf. All these people were warm friends of the anti-slavery men, and Rutherford was an officer with the local anti-slavery society. Garrison greeted Dr. Rutherford as "an old subscriber to the Liberator." On the platform waiting with Rutherford and Crain were a number of African American residents of Harrisburg, led by schoolteacher John Wolf. After introductions and pleasantries were exchanged, Frederick Douglass went with Wolf to his home in Judy's Town, as had been prearranged, and Garrison went with William Rutherford to his mansion at Eleven South Front Street. Garrison wrote that he received, at Dr. Rutherford's home, "a cordial welcome from his estimable lady," Eleanor.

The two men rested at the homes of their respective hosts, and in the early evening went to the Dauphin County Court House, on Market Street, which was the venue reserved for their addresses on that and the following evenings. A large crowd had gathered by the time they arrived and the lecture room was filled before the start, which encouraged Garrison, as he had been told that previous anti-slavery lectures here had not generated much interest.

Several prominent local citizens in the audience were also pointed out to him. One person in the audience was local attorney Charles C. Rawn, who by now appears to have definitely switched his views to be sympathetic toward the anti-slavery cause. Whether Rawn was an abolitionist of the radical Garrisonian stripe at this point is doubtful. In his journal entry for the day, he wrote that he was at the crowded event to hear "the celebrated Wm. Lloyd Garrison," showing his interest in hearing what the radical abolitionist had to say. Rawn was not as familiar with Frederick Douglass yet, referring to him as "a col'd man of some note."

The size and makeup of the crowd also aroused Garrison's suspicions, however, as he ascertained a certain mischievous character in many of those who hung toward the back of the room. Garrison had previously noted that Harrisburg was "very much under the influence of slavery," and he had no doubt that influence would manifest itself in some manner during their visit.

The "celebrated" newspaper editor spoke first, and though his speech lasted about an hour, and his remarks, by his own description, were "stringent" and "severe," he was not interrupted. He took his seat and a noticeable ripple of anticipation went through the room then, as Frederick Douglass rose and took his place to address the audience.

The sonorous voice of the former slave had scarcely echoed through the room before the solemnity of the occasion was shattered by the splattering of several eggs that were lobbed through the open windows and door. The eggs, which were aimed at Douglass, smashed all over the furniture and wall next to him, and it became immediately apparent to everyone in the room that they were very rotten.

Douglass resumed his speech, raising his voice to rise above the taunts coming from the streets outside, and attempting to ignore the nearly overpowering stench of the rotten eggs. He was almost immediately thwarted by firecrackers that were next thrown into the room, and which landed among the women who were seated to one side, causing a great commotion among them. No sooner had that excitement passed when more rotten eggs were launched through the windows, one of which broke over the back of Garrison's head. All this time, the rowdies outside were yelling and taunting those assembled inside, and yelling, "Throw out the nigger." By now the audience had withstood all that it could, and quite a few people began to crowd toward the door.

Garrison took the floor and managed to get control of the hall for a moment, sternly announcing that if Harrisburg lacked "sufficient love of liberty and self-respect…to protect the right of assembly and the freedom of speech," then he and Douglass would not persist in their efforts to speak here, and they would go to where they "could be heard." One of the more politically distinguished persons inside the Court House, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Henry Petriken, angrily retorted that, although he wanted to hear the guests speak, he was "obliged to defend the character of the people of Harrisburg." Charles Rawn, fully cognizant of the political tenor of the town, took offense at Petriken's stance, and verbally corrected him in front of the increasingly bewildered audience.

The meeting had lost all semblance of order by now. Several persons still in their seats could be overheard asking, "Where are the police?" Curiously, the office of county sheriff was located in the same building, almost directly above the hall where the anti-slavery lecture was taking place. Either Dauphin County Sheriff James Martin was not in his office and was therefore unaware of the disturbance, or he was unconcerned with the fate of outside anti-slavery agitators in the borough. Chief Burgess Henry Chritzman, who lived a few blocks east of the courthouse, on Market Street, was similarly unaware or unconcerned.


Glass Shards and Brickbats

Regardless of whether local officials knew of the ongoing commotion, no police or deputies arrived to disperse the rowdies and restore order. With no lawmen in attendance, the crowd outside turned suddenly ugly, and a dangerous hail of stones and bricks soon took the place of the annoying but relatively harmless eggs and firecrackers. Several windows in the courthouse were smashed and Douglass was hit in the back by a stone and grazed on the face by a brick. In writing of the episode a few days later, Garrison pointed out that "all the venom of the rowdies seemed to be directed against [Douglass]."

Sensing the intent of the mob, a number of African American residents rushed to form a protective escort around Douglass as he hurriedly exited the courthouse onto Market Street. He later recalled that a local white woman offered to take his arm and walk with him, but he declined, sensing that it would only incite the mob to more extreme violence. He was probably correct. The scene in the street was chaotic and frightening as a group of the town's African American residents attempted to move Douglass eastward along the street through the surrounding swarm of enraged whites who shouted racial epithets and continued pelting them with missiles. The white anti-slavery supporters at the scene, Garrison wrote, were left unmolested, and could only watch helplessly as Douglass was led by the town's blacks to refuge in a friendlier neighborhood. The lack of police intervention in the riot was noticed by the national press, which termed it "shameful."86

William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass did get their opportunity to address the citizens of Harrisburg peaceably the next day, which was Sunday. Instead of pressing ahead with another attempt to speak at the courthouse, however, they limited their appearance to a more hospitable location, speaking twice at the Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion church, in Tanners' Alley. They spoke in the late morning and in the afternoon, to a crowded audience that was mostly African American, although in a letter written several days later from Pittsburgh, Garrison recalled that "a number of white [friends] were also present."

No African American anti-slavery orator attempted to address the white citizens of Harrisburg publicly the rest of that decade. The next year, when Martin R. Delany arrived in town to lecture to African American audiences, he found the "general demeanor of the whites is quite civil. . .but do not think I could say as much, had I attempted to hold a meeting in the Court House." The message had been conveyed quite clearly, even if the town had suffered a dressing down for its shameful behavior: Harrisburg was, as Garrison had written, "very much under the influence of slavery."87

There is, however, an important point to be made regarding those two Sunday meetings at Wesley Church. Those who were in attendance to hear Douglass and Garrison speak at the church, both white and black, were the defiant ones, refusing to buckle under to the prevailing pro-slavery sentiment in Harrisburg. They had publicly defied the slave powers from the first week of 1836, when they held a public meeting in Alexander Graydon's house, through the excitement of the conventions in the following years, to the stormy visits from outside lecturers. The 1847 meeting in Wesley Church was a victory for the cause of anti-slavery because it proved that Harrisburg whites and blacks were still working together years after Charles B. Ray and Junius Morel had connected those "few choice white activists" with their African American counterparts. No longer were their efforts totally separate and disconnected. For more than a decade their cause had been, and would continue to be onward, even though that path led decidedly uphill.

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80. Colored American, 8, 15 September, 13, 20 October 1838. For mention of the 1838 Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Convention in Harrisburg, see Liberator, 2, 16 February 1838.

81. Liberator, 23 February 1838; Colored American, 17 August 1839.

82. Excerpt from Philadelphia Public Ledger, published in Liberator, 25 April 1845.
The two male AAS agents traveling with Abby Kelly and Jane E. Hitchcock were Stephen Foster and Benjamin S. Jones. In June, all four traveled to Ohio to pioneer the Garrisonian anti-slavery philosophy west of the Alleghenies. There, Kelley married Stephen Foster and Hitchcock married Benjamin Jones. Henry Mayer, All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery (New York: St. Martin's, 1998), 365-366.

83. North Star, 17 March, 17 November, 1 December 1848, 3 August 1849; "Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society Committee of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Fair, 9 January 1850," Historical Society of Pennsylvania, http://www.hsp.org/files/pfassreporton14thfair.pdf (accessed 9 April 2009); Obituary of John Wolf, Brooklyn Eagle, 13 February 1899; Obituary of John Wolf, Christian Recorder, 2 March 1899.

84. Liberator, 19 March 1847; Bureau of the Census, Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; Barton and Dorman, Harrisburg's Old Eighth Ward, 36-38.

85. Liberator, 20 August 1847. The physical description of Frederick Douglass is from David P. Chesebrough, Frederick Douglass: Oratory From Slavery (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), 103. Weather data is from entries dated 6 August 1847 and 7 August 1847 in "The Rawn Journals" (accessed 11 April 2009).
It is ironic that the man who accosted Frederick Douglass on the train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, John Adams Fisher, was the son of George Fisher II, the founder of Portsmouth, and the attorney who aided James Williams of Portsmouth, when his family was kidnapped by slave catchers in 1834. George Fisher's role as an attorney for the abolition society is noted in Liberator, 25 April 1835.

86. Liberator, 20 August 1847; National Era, 26 August 1847; Entry dated 7 August 1847, "The Rawn Journals" (accessed 11 April 2009); Ira V. Brown, "An Anti-Slavery Journey: Garrison and Douglass in Pennsylvania, 1847," Pennsylvania History 67, no. 4 (Autumn 2000): 533-541; Frederic May Holland, Frederick Douglass: The Colored Orator (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1891), 154-156.

87. Holland, Douglass, 156; North Star, 1 December 1848.


Caution: Copyrighted material. Published September 2010.

© 2010 George F. Nagle



This is the first in a series of books from the Afrolumens Project. Drawing on a large number of sources, and making good use of the treasure trove of information on the pages of the Afrolumens Project, this is the first truly comprehensive history of Harrisburg's African American community.

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