I have reported, several times in this blog, the subjective experience that while my present-day personality is, perhaps, jogged off from my 19th-century personality as Mathew Franklin Whittier by about 10-15%, my higher mind is precisely the same. This is hard to explain, and even harder to quantify in any way that will be considered scientific. It is true, nonetheless; I'm not guessing about this. You have read my blogs, and have seen--and more importantly, felt--how my mind works, today. Remember that I have my astral soul-mate, Abby, with me mentally, as well, weighing in and at times nudging me.
Just this morning, I keyed in a letter to the editor, written by Mathew and Abby in 1837. He was 25, and she, 21. They were responding to someone signing "Alpha & Beta," who was attacking the Abolitionist position; and they, themselves, were signing, in response, as "Kappa, Lambda & Mu." "Mu," at the time of their first letter, was their unborn child. I have discussed the symbolism of these chosen names for their young family, earlier.
What I propose to do, now, is to demonstrate that my higher mind, and Mathew's, are precisely the same. This example is especially suitable, because Abby was probably weighing in, when he wrote these letters, to a similar degree and in a similar way to what she does, today. In order to fully appreciate this comparison, you, yourself, will have to be psychic--or at least intuitive. But if you are, you should be able to perceive it clearly. This is the same higher mind, speaking 180 years ago.
Today, the entire argument regarding slavery seems absurd (as will my current arguments against philosophical Materialism in the hopefully not-too-distant future). Mathew and Abby were obviously right. But in 1837, it was not so clear. The absurd had taken hold of Society--the obvious appeared, to them, to be radicalism.
Mathew and Abby's first child, Joseph, would be born a week after this letter was published. He would live just under a year, apparently because, being shunned, they were forced to leave town and take up residence in poor housing near the mills in Amesbury, Mass. Probably as a result, Joseph was caught up in a local scarlet fever epidemic, and died while Mathew was out of town, being forced to beg for work from a fellow-Abolitionist in Michigan. But I believe their son was killed via shunning, in reaction to these letters, just as surely as if their opponents had done it with a knife. So Mathew and Abby paid a very, very high price for writing this series--but what else could they do? The anti-Abolitionist letters were erudite, false and extremely clever. Someone had to stand up to them, publicly.
Without further ado, I present "Kappa, Lambda & Mu's" letter, published in the Aug. 13, 1837 edition of the Dover "Enquirer." (As I am in a hurry, and have not yet proofread this carefully, forgive any typos--they will be fixed, shortly.)
Mr Editor,--In No. 4 of Alpha & Beta's communications on the "Principles and Measures of the American Anti-Slavery Society," I find many of the writer's statements very far from the truth--so far that I cannot account for them without supposing him to be either grossly ignorant or willfully wicked. His statements of the principles and measures of the Anti-Slavery Society are indeed gross caricatures; and I should deem them wholly unworthy of reply, did I not fear that some of your readers, who are unacquainted with those principles and measures, would receive his misrepresentations for the truth. For the purpose then of preventing an honest misunderstanding on the part of your readers, and not because I deem the statements in question, considered in themselves of any great importance, I submit the following reply.
Your A&B asserts, "that the Anti-Slavery Society have formed themselves into a sort of 'Church militant,' and are proceeding to drive from the temple all whom they deem the polluters of the sanctuary." This assertion is a gross caricature, as a very slight knowledge of the facts in the case will show. And what are the facts? Simply these; The American Anti-Slavery Society believes that slavery, or holding MEN, created in the image of God, as PROPERTY, or to use the language of southern laws, as "CHATTELS PERSONAL," is a SIN;--that this sin exists extensively in the churches of the south, and is upheld by their example;--and that the churches in the North, instead of bearing a faithful and decided testimony against the iniquity, are by their silence, and in many instances by their direct apologies, actually sustaining it. In this state of things, what is the Anti Slavery Society endeavoring to do? Why this:--to arouse the churches of the North to a sense of their situation, to spread out before them the appalling facts in the case--to show them how their present course in tending to the perpetuity of all the horrors and abominations of slavery, and persuade them, by their regard for the honor of God and the welfare of the human race, no longer to be silent respecting the wrongs of the oppressed, but to "cry aloud and spare not," and show the people their sins. Will A.&B. deny that this is a fair statement of what the Society is attempting to do? Or will he deny the facts to which I have alluded as the basis of their action? Will he deny that slavery is a sin? Will he say it is right to reduce a spiritual being to a thing--a mere article of merchandize? Or if he admits that it is a sin, will he deny that it is upheld by the practice of the Southern Churches? Will he deny that more than 300 ministers of the South are slaveholders? Or that more than 300,000 slaves are held by professedly Evangelical christians. Or that both ministers and laymen sell members of the church without scruple at auction or private sale, thus speculating in the body of Christ? If he doubts these things, what will he say to the following statement of Rev. James Smylie, a Presbyterian Minister of Mississippi, and a Member of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church--himself the owner, as it is said, of about 100 "chattels personal?"
"If slavery be a sin, and if advertising and apprehending slaves with a view to restore them to their masters, is a direct violation of the divine law, and if buying, selling, or holding a slave FOR THE SAKE OF GAIN, is a heinous sin and scandal, then verily, THREE-FOURTHS of all the Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians in eleven States in the Union, ARE OF THE DEVIL. They 'hold' if they do not buy and sell slaves; and, with few exceptions, they hesitate not to apprehend and restore runaway slaves when in their power."
Such is a picture of Southern churches, as drawn by one of their own number.--Will Alpha & Beta deny its correctness? If it is correct, ought Northern churches to apologize for the iniquity, or be silent respecting it? And are Abolitionists deserving of censure for attempting to waken the Churches, and persuading them no longer to be partakers in the sin? If this is what your correspondent means by the attempt of the Anti Slavery Society "to drive from the temple all whom they deem the polluters of the sanctuary," then may it well plead guilty of the charge. Does he mean to say that he is opposed to such a purification of the church? Does he wish to have Christians possess the power to sell their brethren under the hammer of the auctioneer, to deprive them of the Bible, and exact their labor without compensation; and all without any liability to censure? Does he wish to have Northern churches not only keep silent respecting such enormities, but hold christian fellowship with those who perpetrate such atrocious deeds? If so, his attacks upon the Anti Slavery Society are in keeping with his principles.
The Anti Slavery Society regards the church in its purity as the light of the world--the great centre of moral influence.--They believe that while slaveholding is sanctioned and made respectable by the example of professing Christians and while the church tolerates the iniquity by her silence or her apologies, all efforts to reform non-professors will be comparatively fruitless. Hence their anxiety to purify the church and concentrate her moral influence against that system or abominations which makes heathen at home, and sells them on the block of the auctioneer, and then puts "the price of blood" into the treasury of the Lord to convert heathen abroad! Again I ask your correspondent if he means to be understood as being opposed to such a purification? If not why does he find fault with the abolitionists?
Your Alpha & Beta while professing to be engaged in an examination of the "principles and measures" of the Abolitionists, turns aside, as most writers of this class have done, to attack their character. He sneeringly asks who they are? whether they are entitled to regard on account of the "sacredness of office," &c.? and whether they are the "Great Lights of the church," &c? The question now is not as to their principles or their measures, but whether, as in olden time, any of the Rules have believed on them! It is probable then that Alpha & Beta will make no objection to the doctrines or practices of Abolitionists, when the "Great Lights," who are high in "office" and influence join them! Admitting all that he has said in relation to the insignificance of the Abolitionists, and what does the objection prove? Nothing.
It was said of Clarkson, Wilberforce, and their associates, that they were insignificant men. The self-styled "Great Lights" of their day were as bitterly opposed to their efforts, as are those high in office now to the exertions of the Abolitionists. And the little lights, then as now, imitated those high in "office," and wondered how any body could presume to rebuke a sin sanctioned by the practice of the church!
Your correspondent says that "the Illuminati of the Continent, and the Atheists of the Frech Revolution were all Abolitionists;" and that "their doctrine of equal rights not only produced the horrors of the French Revolution at home, but was the primal root of those measures that finally bathed the Island of St. Domingo in blood." Now I utterly deny that either of the classes mentioned above were abolitionists in the sense in which the term is used at the present day. On the contary they denied the fundamental principle on which modern abolitionism is bsaed, viz: the duty of all men to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves. This is the corner-stone of the Anti Slavery temple, and it was the denial of this and the substitution of other doctrines in its place that led to the horrors of the French Revolution. It was the spirit of Slavery, and not the principles of Abolitionism, which "bathed St. Domingo in blood." All the horrid massacres in that island which made the world shudder and turn pale were the fruits of slavery--that system which the American churches are hugging to their bosom!
The assertion of your correspondent that Fanny Wright, [Robert] Dale Owen, and Abner Kneeland, are abolitionists, I pronounce a wilful slander. On the contrary, all these individuals are as bitterly opposed to the principles and measures of the Anti Slalvery Society as Alpha & Beta himself. Let him prove or retract the assertion then, or else consent to be branded as a vile calumniator.
I pass by what A&B has said of Mr Garrison's views of the Sabbath, with only this remark; that while Mr G. is as orthodox on that subject as was John Calvin, i believe the views which they have both promulgated, are incorrect; but I am no-more ready to exclude Mr Garrison from the pale of charity on account of his sentiments in relation to the Sabbath, than I am to deny that Calvin was a great Reformer, because he held the same views. The Anti Slavery Socity, moreover, is not responsible for Mr G's sentiments on that subject. Your correspondent would appear to be extremely sensitive in relation to any thing that invalidates the sabbath; and yet he is not at all alarmed to see the church tolerating a system which not only tramples on that holy day, but on every commandment of the Decalogue! Strange inconsistency! Surely this is "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel."
The remarks of your Alpha & Beta in relation to Mr Snelling are extremely mean. It is true that he is fallen, and the he was an Abolitiionist. He is intemperate, but how far his vice is to be attributed to the example of rum-selling Christians and wine-bibing ministers, I will not presume to say. If Mr Snelling were as bad as Judas, or even as those ministers at the South who sell their church-members at auction, I see not how it would make the "principles or measures" of the Abolitionists either better or worse. Mr S. moreover is not the author of Archy Moore, a work which, although it seems to have shocked the doubly refined sensibilities of your correspondent, has been read with admiration by multitudes of fathers and mothers, whose regard for the "purity and delicacy of the minds of their children" is something better than sheer affectation.
KAPPA, LAMBDA & MU.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach