Constitution of Oberlin Anti-slavery society

Founded June, 1835


Believing it incumbent upon all who associate for the advancement of the general good to state explicitly their object, their reasons for seeking it, the means proposed for its accomplishment, and the principles which are to control their action; we make the following exposition.


I. Object. Our object is the immediate emancipation of the whole colored race within the United States: The emancipation of the slave from the oppression of the master, the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment, and the elevation of both to an intellectual, moral, and political equality with the whites.


II. Reasons. We advocate the immediate emancipation of the slave for the following reasons

            1. He is constituted by God a moral agent, the keeper of his own happiness, the executive of his own powers, the accountable arbiter of his own choice; personal ownership his birthright, unforfeited and invaluable; liberty, and the pursuit of happiness his chartered rights, inherited from his maker and guaranteed by all the laws of his being. Slavery robs him of himself, body and soul; and though he is immortal, created in God's image, the purchase of a Saviour's blood, visited by the Holy Ghost, and united to a citizenship with angels and to fellowship with God, it drags him to the shambles and sells him like a beast, goads him to incessant and unrequited toil, withholds from him legal protection in all his personal rights and social relations, and abandons to caprice, cupidity, passion, and lust, all that is dear in human well-being. It crushes the upward tendencies of the intellect, makes the acquisition of knowledge a crime, and consigns the mind to famine.

            It stifles the moral affections, represses the innate longings of the spirit, paralyzes conscience, turns hope to despair, and kills the soul.

            As a system, slavery annihilates the marriage relation, exposes to pollution a million of females, and makes stripes or death the penalty of resistance. It tears assunder (sic) parents and children, husbands and wives, and consigns them to distant and hopeless bondage, desolate and heartbroken.


            2. It excites the enmity of the oppressed against the oppressor, goads to desperation and revenge, provokes insurrection, and perils public safety.


            3. It tends to blunt the sensibilities of all who exercise authority over the slave, and to transform them into tyrants. The whole process is drawn to the life by President Jefferson, who lived and died a slave holder.

"The parent storms: the child looks on, catches the lividments (?) of wrath, puts on the same airs, in the circle of smaller slaves. (It?) gives (sic) loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny cannot fail to be stamped with odious peculiarities. The man must be who can retain his morals and manners undepraved in such circumstances."


            4. It is the occasion of deep moral pollution to the families of slave holders; -- a pollution mingling with the first thoughts, spreading wider and wider with the increase of years, and naturally resulting from contact with those whom legalized oppression renders liable to prostitution.


            5. It cripples the energies of the whole nation, entails poverty and decay upon the states which uphold it, foments division and alienation in our public councils, and puts in jeopardy the existence of the Union.


            6. It is opposed to the genius of our Government, makes our Constitution a mockery, converts our national Declaration into a rapsody (sic) of sentimentalism, convicts us of hypocrisy at the bar of the world, neutralizes the power of our example as a nation, and checks the progress of republican principles.


            7. It opposes an insuperable barrier to the conversion of the world, is a standing libel upon the avowed influence of the Christian religion, and heathen nations will not be slow to read the disgraceful commentary. It sanctions as a principle the absurd and wicked prejudice against color; and thus not only dooms to despair the unfortunate millions of colored people in our own country, but would, if carried out, paralyze all missionary effort and shut the bowels (?) of mercy forever against the world.


            8. Slavery exposes the nation to the judgments of God. We adopt and reiterate the memorable sentiment of Jefferson: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that his justice will not sleep forever:" and we urge an immediate repentance of the sin which provokes his wrath, and an immediate breaking off from it by righteousness.


            We advocate the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment and civil disabilities; Because color, condition of birth, poverty, calamity and complicated woe deserve no punishment.

            It is a part of a tyrant to inflict penalties upon the innocent; and when the victim is powerless, friendless, long oppressed, and already heart (inserted above) broken, it is the part of a fiend. The colored race in this country are the objects of scorn and persecution. Impoverished, disenfranchised, and trodden into the dust, they faint under the inflictions of a public sentiment, "which escalteth itself above all that (?) is called God." We cannot hold our peace while these, our brethren, are immolated upon the altar of prejudice and pride. They need our sympathies and our aid, and they shall have them. (different handwriting)


III. Principles. The principles which will control our operations are inculcated in the following precepts of our Lord: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "As you would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." "Beware of hardness of heart toward they poor brother." We adopt implicitly and entirely the law of love as the basis of our action.


IIII. Mode of Operation. We shall seek to effect the abolition of Slavery

1. Not by instigating the slaves to rebellion. This would be murder (different handwriting). The principles on this point are those of our master and Lord. "Resist not evil." "Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully (sic) use you and persecute you."


2. Not by advocating an interposition of force on the part of the free States. Even if Congress had power to abolish slavery (stricken out). We are no advocates for war.


3. Not by advocating congressional interference with the constitutional powers of the States. Even if Congress had power to abolish slavery, our principles "show us a more excellent way."


We seek to abolish slavery;

1. By approaching the minds of slave holders with the truth, in the spirit of the Gospel. "Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor and not suffer sin upon him" is the commandment of God. We shall endeavour (sic) to induce men to forsake this, as every other sin, by speaking the truth in love; addressing it to the understanding, pressing it upon the conscience, appealing to sympathy, invoking patriotism and philanthropy, and summoning out the manhood of the Soul to an act of justice after long and guilty delay. In fine, we propose to use only such means as are sanctioned by the laws of the land, the dictates of humanity, the principles of justice, and the Gospel of Christ.


2. By appeals to the pecuniary interests of the slave holders.


3. By presenting facts, arguments, and the uniform results of experiment demonstrating the practicality, safety, and expediency of immediate emancipation, and the presumption and peril of delay.


4. By a general dissemination of facts, reasonings, and appeals upon the subject of slavery.


5. By embodying and concentrating public sentiment against the system.


6. By promoting the observance of the monthly concert of prayer for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the world, and by beseeching our fellow christians, and fathers and brethren in the ministry, to pray without ceasing, in secret and in public, that "every yoke may be broken," and that "all the oppressed may go free."


To prevent misapprehension, we subjoin the following exposition of immediate emancipation. It has been extensively adopted as expressing the views of Abolitionists and embodies substantially our own.


"By immediate emancipation, we do not mean that the slaves shall be turned loose upon the nation to roam as vagabonds and aliens -- nor

That they shall be instantly invested with all political rights -- nor

That they shall be expelled from their native land to a foreign clime, as the price and condition of their freedom.

But we do mean -- that instead of being under the unlimited control of a few irresponsible masters, they shall receive the protection of law:

That the power which is invested in every slave holder, to rob them of their dues, to drive them to the field like beasts, to lacerate their bodies, to sell the husband from his wife, the wife from her husband, and children from their parents, shall instantly cease;

That the slaves shall be employed as free laborers, fairly compensated and protected in their earnings;

That they shall be placed under a benevolent and disinterested supervision, which shall secure to them the right to obtain secular and religious knowledge, to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences, and to seek an intellectual and moral equality with the whites."

Finally impelled by these considerations, and looking to God for wisdom, strength, and success, we solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, to seek through evil report and good report, "the immediate emancipation of the whole colored race. The emancipation of the slave from the oppression of the master, the emancipation of the free colored man from the oppression of public sentiment, and the elevation of both to an intellectual, moral, and political equality with the whites."




Art. 1st - This society shall be called "The Anti Slavery Society of Oberlin (no close quotes) and shall be auxiliary to the Lorain Co. Anti Slavery Society.

Art. 2nd - The Officers of this Society shall be elected annually at the annual meeting; and shall consist of a President, two Vice Presidents, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor and Twelve managers.

Art. 3rd - Each officer shall perform the several duties usually belonging to the office he holds.

Art. 4th - The Board of Managers shall from their own number elect an Executive Committee of five who shall through the Corresponding Secretary, direct all the correspondence of the Society (no comma) prepare for publication such documents as they may deem important, and control the appropriation of Society's funds, subject to the supervision of the Board of Managers.

Art. 5th - Funds for all purposes of the society shall depend entirely upon voluntary contributions.

Art. 6th - The Society shall hold an annual meeting on the Tuesday preceding the first Wednesday of July, quarterly meetings on the first Tuesday of October, January, April.

Art. 7th - Any person may become a member of this Society, by subscribing to the Preamble & Constitution.



J.J. Shipherd                                                                 M.K. Mahan

A.W. Mahan                                                                 A.J. Mahan

C.G. Finney                                                                  L.D. Mahan

H.B. Stanton                                                                 A. Mahan (crossed out)

A. Tracy                                                                        C.M. Sur ?

B. Patton                                                                       E. Pease

B. Stephens                                                                   M. Tracy       

W. (?) Holford                                                              S.S. Platt

S.W. Streeter                                                                A. Platt          

P.P. Pease                                                                     F.C. Platt

J. Dascomb                                                                   M.J. Hoisington (?)

P. James                                                                        S.N. Warren (crossed out)

J. Morgan                                                                     E.N. (?) Leonard (crossed out)

H. Snyder                                                                     Mary Williams (crossed out)

J.A. Thome                                                                   Eliza Sell (crossed out)

Wm. J. Allan                                                                 Fidelia Seovel (?) (crossed out)

H. Fairchild                                                                   E.H. Barlt (crossed out)

Wm. P. Cushman                                                         Mrs. C.G. Finney (crossed out)

G. Whipple                                                                   Chloe Cummings (crossed out)

G. Clark                                                                        S.H. Hopkins

D. Bishop                                                                     S.B. Humphrey (crossed out)

D. Branch                                                                     A. Dewey (crossed out)

E.N. Bartlett                                                                  Catherine P. Moore (crossed out)

W. Weir                                                                        S. Fairchild

S.E. Platt                                                                       M.A. Fletcher (crossed out)

Wm. Lewis                                                                   H--- (?) Otis (crossed out)

L. Turner                                                                       S. Bishop

J.M. Barrows                                                                Amelia Jones (crossed out)

S.W. Graves                                                                 Henry W. Fletch (crossed out)

A. Bronson                                                                   Mary Thome (crossed out)

C.D. Martin                                                                  Eliza Branch (crossed out)

George S. Hovey                                                          Laurette Turner (?)(crossed out)

H.C. Brown                                                                  L. Hosford (crossed out)

N.J. Chamberlin                                                            Lydia Hosford          

Alfred Smith                                                                 Deborah Wordeva (?)(crossed out)

C.B. Finney                                                                  Sally Fletcher (crossed out)

R.W. Lane                                                                    Elizabeth Hopkins (crossed out)

Wm. Hills                                                                     L. Comet

Benjamin Sweet                                                            C.S. Comet

Norman Sykes                                                              T.S. Pelton(crossed out)

T.D. Ingersoll                                                               Louisa Mattison (crossed out)

Isaac J. (?) Warren                                                        L. Turner (crossed out)

Lucy H. Parker                                                             A.G. Moore (crossed out)

E.B. Sherwood                                                              Lucy Jones (crossed out)

J.S. Campbell                                                                Betsey M. Kinney (crossed out)

Rolen Brown                                                                 Sarah Sanburn (crossed out)

G.W. Fletcher                                                               Adeline Smith (crossed out)

N. Fletcher                                                                    Elisabeth S. Prall (crossed out)

G. Smith                                                                       C --- (?) Hopkins (crossed out)

James L. Granger                                                          Harriet Matcham (crossed out)

Amos B. Adams                                                            Charlotte Boland (crossed out)

A. Munger                                                                    Lydia Brown (crossed out)

Robert E. Gillet                                                             Minerva Penfield (crossed out)

Harvey Gibbs                                                                Eliza Hall(crossed out)

Chas. Sill                                                                      Laura Eastman (crossed out)

Aaron Chils                                                                   N.A. Gillet (crossed out)

Thomas K. Chandler                                                     Laura A. Eastman (crossed out)

Horton D. Dyke                                                            Elizabeth Leonard (crossed out)

J.J. Gardner                                                                  Sarah Hale (or Hall) (crossed out)

C.W. Wallace                                                               Dinah Hale (" ") (crossed out)

Joseph Whitney                                                            Patrice Boland (crossed out)

E. Ralph                                                                        Sarah Rudd (crossed out)

Frederick W. Burges                                                    Sally M. Ward (crossed out)

Chilo (?) B. Littlejohn                                                   Jane Grafford (crossed out)

Joseph Lawrence                                                           Janis Platt (crossed out)

Thomas P. Turner                                                         Mary M. Platt (crossed out)

John M. Williams                                                         Lucy W. Snyder (crossed out)

E.H. F ---- (cut off)                                                       Caroline Bushnell (crossed out)

Chas Garrish                                                                 Mary A. Chapin (crossed out)

M.S. Brooks                                                                 Mary Hall (crossed out)

Theodore J. Keep                                                          Harriet Chapin (crossed out)

C.D. Hibbard                                                                Esther R. Hipkins? (crossed out)

Jonah B. Hall                                                                Wm. C. Shipherd

Asa L. Shaw                                                    Phil? Sherwood (crossed out) (duplicate)

James S. Brown                                                            P.P. Stewart  

Wm. B. Hall                                                                 J. Middleton 

Chas S. Moore                                                              G.H. Thompson

Hiram Wilson                                                               R.H. Thompson

Silas G. Tyler                                                                E.W. Carmichael

A.E. Lyon                                                                     E.P. French

Gilbert H. Littlejohn                                                      P. Haskins (crossed out)

James E. Bru?                                                               Rhoda Lage (crossed out)

Lawrence D. Weeks                                                      Eliza Meacham (crossed out)

Z.N. Lewis                                                                    Betsy Francisco (crossed out)

Benjamin Folts                                                              Laret L. C ---- ?? (crossed out) Edward Cowles                                                             C.L. Mursh

Wm. Hoisington                                                           Jos. Woodman

Cummings Fletcher                                                       George L. Chapin

Isaac D. Carwell                                                            E. Branch (crossed out)

Washington George                                                      M.G. Whillesy (crossed out)

Wm. Sheffield                                                              Wm. W. Wright       

J.B. Campbell                                                               Wm. G. Lucreit?

Horace Crosby                                                              J. Dochsar ?

Milton Brainerd                                                            P. Cochran

Daniel Marsh                                                                L. Mills

Paul B. Kinney                                                             Th. Brooks

Paul Shipherd                                                               L.C. Caper ?(crossed out)

R.H. Donegan                                                               Ruth H. Pear (crossed out)

Martin Leonard                                                             J.M. Blaksler (crossed out)

George Thompson                                                        Marianne Dascomb (crossed out)

A.W. Norris                                                                  G. Pear (crossed out)

W.G. Bingham                                                             F. Pear

D. Hubbard, jr.                                                              Daniel Stillman

Moses W. Henderson                                                   E. Pear

G. Blair                                                                         Sarah Manger (crossed out)

Wm. Cochrane                                                              Wm. L Manger (crossed out)

Brewster Pelton                                                             E.L. Stevens

M. Boland                                                                     A. Tracy

Geo. Barrows                                                                M. Hoord

M. Fitch                                                                        D. Fenn (crossed out)

C.J. Backster                                                                 C.M. Branch (crossed out)

B. McCord                                                                    C.S. Branch (crossed out)

Benjamin Cole                                                              --- E. Brown (crossed out)

J.M. Fragen                                                                  A.W. Norris

Wm. W. Gaston                                                           Jackie? O. Beardslee

Chas A. Walker                                                            Geo. H. Lane (crossed out)

Albertus L. Lynde                                                         S.F. Parker

Thos. Goodman                                                            David R. Mills

H.N. Smaller                                                                 Thomas Jones           

Jos. Adair                                                                      Willard Barr

Geo. S. Harris                                                               Gehiah? Matthie

J.J. Williams                                                                 J.R. Smith     

Danl. Morgan                                                               Marshal A. Munson

Asa B. Childs                                                                E.J. Grumbey

Ezra C. Prince                                                               D. Jeffers

Wm. H. Green                                                              John J. Griffin

Philip D. Adams                                                           L. Stroughtenborough

Anson Penfield                                                             Robert Ronson?

Jos. Sill                                                                         Hiram B. Hunt

Jos. Marsh                                                                    A.L. Morris

Henry Chapin                                                               Joshua Campbell

Chas W. Sherwood                                                       David Holtslander

Edwin Dowel                                                                Hiram/Herman Chapin

N. Shaw                                                                        Alvin Kimball

N. Brown                                                                      D.W. Baldwin

E.R. Ingraham                                                               Henry Wilcox

D. Samson                                                                    Eben Campbell

S.D. Butts                                                                     Milo R. Goodrich

Stephen Cull                                                                 H.B. Clarke

P. Hamilton                                                                   E.J. Girrnsend?

Nathaniel Garrish                                                          P.W. Gray

E. Spencer                                                                     John P. Cowles

Jos. Sill, jr.                                                                    Henry Cowles

Phillip James (crossed out) (duplicate)                         E.P. Ingersol

Stephen C. Leonard ?                                                    Thomas James ? (crossed out)

Elisa? M. Leonard                                                         James Dascomb

S.L.D. Eastman                                                             Cornelius S. Cady

C.A. Jenison                                                                 Daniel Chapman

C.A. Pease                                                                    Wilhelm Grineth       

N.A. Hurt                                                                      J --- (illegible)

J. Penfield                                                                     M.M. Clark  

J. Davis                                                                         H.L. Hammond

Henry Shipherd                                                            Henry Bowen

Alonzo Pease                                                                -- Cole          

W.W. Ingersoll                                                             Wm. L. Lewis

Franklin Turner                                                             J. Smith        

C. Hopkins                                                                   N. Hogarth

John Petty Russia                                                         E. Benedict

N. Sevill                                                                        Seldon Haynes

B. Hull                                                                          Abraham Steele

Andrew Jones                                                               Ralph Tyler

A.M. Eastman                                                               R.L. Harkfruit ?

S.L. Ingersoll                                                                D. Cochran

James Hull                                                                    W.S Parkam

Edwin Fletcher