Benjamin Lundy

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Benjamin Lundy

Benjamin Lundy (January 4, 1789 – August 22, 1839) was an American Quaker abolitionist from New Jersey who established several anti-slavery newspapers and worked for many others. He traveled widely seeking to limit the expansion of slavery, and in seeking to establish a colony to which freed slaves might be located, outside of the United States.

Lundy was also a leading voice in denouncing the Texas Revolution as a method to perpetuate slavery in Texas in defiance of the laws of Mexico banning slavery.[1]

Biography[edit]

Lundy was born of Quaker parentage at Hardwick Township, New Jersey. As a boy, he worked on his father's farm, attending school for only brief periods, and in 1808-1812 he lived at Wheeling, Virginia (now in West Virginia), where he served an apprenticeship to a saddler, and where — Wheeling being an important headquarters of the interstate slave trade — he first became deeply impressed with the iniquity of the institution of slavery, and determined to devote his life to the cause of abolition.

His apprenticeship completed, he married, and, settling in Saint Clairsville, Ohio, soon built up a profitable business. There, in 1815, he organized an anti-slavery association, known as the Union Humane Society, which within a few months had a membership of more than 500. For a short time, he assisted Charles Osborne in editing the Philanthropist. In 1819 he went to St. Louis, Missouri, and there in 1819-1820 took an active part in the slavery controversy. In 1821 he founded an anti-slavery paper, the Genius of Universal Emancipation, at Mount Pleasant, Ohio. This periodical, first a monthly and later a weekly, was published successively in Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania, though it appeared irregularly, and at times, when Lundy was away on lecturing tours, was issued from any office that was accessible to him.

From September 1829 until March 1830, Lundy was assisted in the editing the Genius by William Lloyd Garrison. At this time, the paper was located in Baltimore. The two were alike in their hostility to slavery, but Garrison was an advocate of immediate emancipation on the soil, while Lundy was committed to schemes of colonization abroad. Within a few months, while Lundy was absent in Mexico, Garrison published extremely radical articles demanding immediate emancipation and asserting that the domestic slave trade was as piratical as the foreign. Garrison was brought to trial for criminal libel, fined, and imprisoned. This occurrence so reduced the circulation of the Genius that a friendly dissolution of partnership between Lundy and Garrison took place. It also raised up such a hostile spirit in Baltimore that Lundy shortly afterwards moved the paper to Washington, D.C., where, after some years, it failed.

Besides traveling through many states of the United States to deliver anti-slavery lectures, Lundy visited Haiti twice, in 1825 and 1829; the Wilberforce Colony of freedmen and refugee slaves in Canada in 1830-1831; and Texas, in 1832 and again in 1833; all these visits being made, in part, to find a suitable place outside the United States to which emancipated slaves might be sent. Between 1820 and 1830, according to a statement made by Lundy himself, he traveled “more than 5000 miles on foot and 20,000 in other ways, visited 19 states of the Union, and held more than 200 public meetings.” He was bitterly denounced by slaveholders and also by such non-slaveholders as disapproved of all anti-slavery agitation, and in January 1827 he was assaulted and seriously injured by a slave-trader, Austin Woolfolk, whom he had severely criticized in his paper.

In 1836-1838 Lundy edited in Philadelphia a new anti-slavery weekly, The National Enquirer, which he had founded, and which under the editorship of John G. Whittier, Lundy's successor, became The Pennsylvania Freeman. In 1838 Lundy moved to Lowell, Illinois, where he printed several copies of the re-established Genius of Universal Emancipation. There he died. Lundy is said to have been the first to deliver anti-slavery lectures in the United States.

Legacy[edit]

Lundy's house in Mount Pleasant

One hundred years after his death, a bronze plaque was dedicated to the pioneer abolitionist and placed at his gravesite. The tribute reads, "It was his lot to struggle, for years almost alone, a solitary voice crying in the wilderness, and, amidst all, faithful to his one great purpose, the emancipation of the slaves." [2]

His house in Mount Pleasant is a National Historic Landmark.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) p. 662
  2. ^ "Who are the Quakers?". Benjamin Lundy, Pioneer Quaker Abolitionist. Retrieved June 16, 2008. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]