The Necessity of Our Cause
November 22, 1866 — Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, Philadelphia PA
I hardly feel satisfied with the statement of our friend, Edward M. Davis, of the action of the Executive Committee. We have all been surprised at the marvelous progress which has been made. We have witnessed the growth of the political parties in this country; for I believe both parties have grown and are coming round right as regards according the right to the ballot to the freedman. But on the other hand we have watched the accounts that have been furnished — some in the daily papers, and some in letters and communications directly to us, and in personal visits, of the cruelty that has been practiced at the South; and those accounts have come to us with the expressed desire that we should keep on and not resign our organization. They have told us that the time has not yet come, while the slave in so many instances is only nominally and legal free, while in fact the almost unlimited power of this oppressor continues; and that in many parts of our Southland large numbers of families of slaves are still actually held in bondage, and their labor extorted from them by the lash, as formerly; that while, aso far as the law is concerned, they may no longer be publically bought and sold, yet they have been actually sold and transferred from place to place.
All these facts show the necessity of our cause, and the continued existence of the Anti-Slavery Society, notwithstanding the legal abolition of the accursed system. All this has kept us on the watch, and has kept our interest alive in the great cause. Although there has not been much done in the way of public meetings, in sending forth agents and lecturers, we have not been idle. Early in the summer we circulated some forty or fifty circulars to our friends. There must have been some irregularity in the mails — for we received fewer responses than usual; but there are some of our friends here to whom we sent them, and we hope they will make amends for the shortcoming of the past.
I felt that it was due that we should say something more with regard to what had been done; and I have therefore mentioned these facts to show the mighty work that is still before us, to secure manhood to the long bound and long enslaved. From the time of the proclamation of emancipation up to to-day, what a wonderful change has been wrought in the public mind! The hearts of the benevolent, the good and the pure, not particularly of those who have been associated in our anti-slavery organization heretofore, but all over the country ,young men and strong, young women and active, have been reached, and they have felt it their duty to consecrate themselves and their all, for the time being, to the education of these poor, wronged, stricken, needy slaves. They have gone these three or four years, again and again, returning during the unhealthy months, but, with scarcely an exception, returning to the work with willing hearts, with no disposition to relax their efforts. And the result of their labors have been cheering, in the readiness to learn which has been manifested. Last evening we had letters read in our Friend’s Freedmen’s Association, from the pupils of those who had labored but a short time there, and who had therefore had but a few month’s instruction; and it was wonderful to see the progress they had made, not only in their handwriting, but in their composition.
But this is only one evidence of the great and marvelous uprising of this people. The political progress of the nation is wonderful. Even while we mourn that so much wrong yet exists, we are all astonished and wonder at the advance in our land so far above our most sanguine calculations; for the most sanguine anticipations of the Abolitionists never reached what has been realized within a year or two. I want, therefore, in the beginning of our anti-slavery meeting, that we should be affected in our hearts so much as to offer the silent thanksgiving of praise to Him who is greater than we, whose power is mightier than all, in that so much as been effected through us more than we could hope for.
Source: National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 1, 1866.
Also: Lucretia Mott: Her Complete Speeches and Sermons, ed. Dana Greene, (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press), 1980), p. 283-285.