Saturday, April 19, 2008

Visions That Disturb Contentment

I’m reading a chapter called “Visions that Disturb Contentment”, by Newell Dwight Hillis. He begins the chapter during the days of slave abolition with the following quote, giving example how we have our plans and God has His plans for our lives.

“Like other gently nurtured Boston boys, Wendell Phillips began the study of law. Doubtless the sirens sang to him, as to the noble youth of every country and time. Musing over Coke and Blackstone, perhaps he saw himself succeeding Ames and Otis and Webster, the idol of society, the applauded orator, the brilliant champion of the elegant ease, and the cultivated conservatism of Massachusetts.
But one October day he saw an American citizen assailed by a furious mob in the city of James Otis for saying with James Otis that a man’s right to liberty is inherent and inalienable. As the jail doors closed upon Garrison to save his life; Garrison and his cause had won their most powerful and renowned ally. With the setting of that October sun, vanished forever the career of prosperous ease, the gratification of ordinary ambition, which the genius and the accomplishments of Wendell Phillips had seemed to foretell. Yes, the long-awaited client had come at last. Scarred, scorned and forsaken, that cowering friendless client was wronged and degraded humanity. The great soul saw and understood.” George Wm. Curtis.

Wikipedia's encyclopedia's account of the event--

One of the most controversial events in pre-Civil War Boston history resulted from an Anti-Slavery Society lecture. In the fall of 1835, the society invited George Thompson, a fiery British abolitionist, to address them. When Thompson was unable to attend, Garrison agreed to take his place. An unruly mob threatened to storm the building in search of Thompson. The Mayor and police persuaded the Boston Female Anti-Slavery members to leave. The mob, however, pursued Garrison through the streets of Boston. Garrison was rescued from lynching and lodged overnight in the Leverett Street Jail before leaving the city for several weeks.
Now there are conflicting reports whether William Lloyd Garrison was the man who was lynched or if it was George Thompson, the quote above and this piece from Wikipedia report it was Garrison, but I have included another report from Wikipedia that is contrary. Either way, Garrison was imprisoned and suffered greatly for his convictions about abolition. The following quote from his newspaper the Liberator will give you some idea of how the hot blood of God pulsed through Garrison’s veins and Christ, with all his vehemence, spoke against this injustice through the lips and pen of Garrison --

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as Truth, and as uncompromising as Justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen – but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.” William Lloyd Garrison.

On October 21, 1835, the Boston Female Society announced that a certain George Thompson would be speaking. Pro-slavery forces posted close to 500 notices with the reward of $100 for the citizen that would first lay violent hands on him. After a lynch mob formed, he escaped through the back of the hall, hiding in a carpenters shop. The mob then found him, putting a noose around his neck to drag him away. Fortunately, several strong men intervened and took him to the Leverett Street jail. One who witnessed this attempted lynching was one Wendell Phillips, watching from Court Street. After being converted to the abolitionist cause by William Lloyd Garrison in 1836, Phillips stopped practicing law in order to fully dedicate himself to the movement. He joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and frequently made speeches at its meetings. Garrison was a newspaper writer who spoke openly against the wrongs of slavery. Phillips horrified his family when he joined the Massachusetts Anti-slavery Society. His family tried to have him thrown into an insane sanitarium. So highly regarded were his oratorical abilities that he was known as "abolition's Golden Trumpet". Like many of his fellow abolitionists, Phillips took pains to eat no cane sugar and wear no clothing made of cotton, since both were produced by the labor of Southern slaves. It was Phillip's contention that racial injustice was the source of all of society's ills. Like Garrison, Phillips denounced the Constitution for tolerating slavery. In 1845, in an essay titled "No Union With Slaveholders", he argued for disunion:

Photo of statue -Vincenzo Danti - Honor Triumphant over falsehood.

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