Philanthropists And Reformers
( Originally Published 1913 )
THIS has been a country celebrated for its great fortunes, and the makers of some of those for-tunes will be considered in the chapter dealing with " men of affairs "; but many who have been grouped under that heading might well have been included under this, since, for the most part, the richest men have been the freest in their benefactions. It is worth noting that the recorded public gifts in this country during 1909 amounted to $135,000,000. The giving of money is, of course, only one kind of benefaction, and not the highest kind, which is the giving of self ; but the good which these gifts have rendered possible is beyond calculation.
This kind of philanthropy is no new thing in the United States. It is almost as old as the country it-self. Indeed, few of the older institutions of learning but had their origin in some such gift. One of the earliest of such philanthropists was Stephen Girard, whose life-story is unusually interesting and inspiring. The son of a sailor, and with little opportunity for gaining an education, he shipped as cabin-boy, while still a mere child, and after some years of rough knocking around, rose to the position of mate, and finally to a part ownership in the vessel. In 1769, at the age of nineteen, he established himself in the ship business in Philadelphia, but the opening of the Revolution put an end to that business. Not until the close of the war was he able to re-embark in it. The foundation of his fortune was soon laid by his integrity and enterprise, but it was largely augmented in a most peculiar manner.
Two of his vessels happened to be in one of the ports of Hayti, when a slave insurrection broke out there, and a number of the planters hastily removed their treasure to his vessels for safe-keeping. That night, the insurrection reached its height, and the planters, together with their families, were massacred.. Heirs to a portion of the treasure were discovered by Mr. Girard, but he found himself possessed of about $50,000 to which no heirs could be traced.
With remarkable foresight, Mr. Girard invested largely in the shares of the old Bank of the United States, and in 1812, purchased its building and succeeded to much of its business. He was the financial mainstay of the government during the second war with England—in. fact, it was he who made the financing of the war possible. And yet he was, to all out-ward appearances, a singularly repulsive and hard-fisted old miser. In early youth, an unfortunate accident had caused the loss of one eye, and his other gradually failed him until he was quite blind; he was also partially deaf, and was sour, crabbed and unapproachable. In small matters he was a miser, ready to avoid paying a just claim if he could in any way do so, living in a miserable fashion and refusing charity to every one, no matter how deserving. He was forbidding in appearance, and drove daily to and from his farm outside of Philadelphia in a shabby did carriage drawn by a single horse. No visitor was ever welcomed at that farm, where its owner dragged out a penurious existence.
Yet in public matters no one could have been more open-handed, and when, after his death in 1831, his will was opened, it created a shock of surprise, for practically his whole fortune of $9,000,000 had been bequeathed for charitable purposes. Large sums were given to provide fuel for the poor in winter,, for distressed ship masters, for the blind, the deaf and dumb, and for the public schools. Half a million was given Philadelphia for the improvement of her streets and public buildings ; but his principal bequest was one of $2,000,000, besides real estate, and the residue of his property, for the establishment at Philadelphia of a college for orphans. In 1848, Girard College was opened, and has since then continued its great work, educating as many orphans as the endowment can support. So Girard atoned after his death, for the mistakes of his life.
Almost equally singular was the life of the founder of that splendid government enterprise, the Smithsonian Institution—perhaps the most important scientific center in the world. James Smithson was in no sense an American. Indeed, so far as known, he never even visited the -United States, and yet no account of American philanthropy would be complete without him. He was born in France in 1765, and was the illegitimate son of Hugh Smithson, afterwards Duke of Northumberland. He went by his mother's name for the first forty years of his life, being known as James Macie, until, in 1802, he assumed his father's name.
Born under this shadow, the boy soon developed unusual qualities, graduated from Oxford, with high honors in chemistry and mineralogy, and added greatly to his reputation by a series of scientific papers of great importance. A large portion of his life was passed in Europe, where he associated with the greatest scientists of the day, honored by all of them. He died at Genoa at the age of sixty-four, and, when his will was opened, it was seen how the circumstances of his birth had weighed upon him. For, " in order that his name might live in the memory of man when the titles of the Northumberlands are extinct and forgot-ten," he bequeathed his whole fortune "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." After a suit in chancery, the bequest was paid over to the United States government, amounting to over half a million dollars. In 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was formally established, its first secretary being Joseph Henry, of whose great work there we have already spoken. It has increased in scope and usefulness year by year, and stands to-day without a counterpart in any country.
Peter Cooper also left a portion of his wealth for " the diffusion of knowledge among men," but a different sort of knowledge—the knowledge that would help a man or woman to earn a living. His own career had shown him how necessary such knowledge is. His father was a hatter by trade, and the boy's earliest recollection was of his being employed to pull hair out of rabbit-skins, his head just reaching above the table. But the hat business was unprofitable, and the elder Cooper tried a number of businesses, brewing, brick-making, what not, the boy being required to take part in each of them, so that he had no time for schooling, and had to pick up such odds and ends of knowledge as he could. Finally, in 1808, at the age of seventeen, he was apprenticed to a carriage-maker, and remained with him until he was of age.
After that, the young man himself tried various occupations without great success, until the establishment of a glue factory began to bring him large re-turns. By the beginning of 1828, he was able to purchase three thousand acres of land within the city of Baltimore and to establish the Canton iron-works, which was the first of his great enterprises tending to-ward the development of the iron industry in the United States. Other plants were built or purchased, rolling mills and blast furnaces established, and a great impetus given to this branch of manufacture. He practically financed the Atlantic Cable Company, in the face of ridicule, and made the cable possible, and he saved the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from bankruptcy by designing and building a locomotive —the first ever built in this country—especially adapted to the uneven country over which the track was laid.
The fortune thus acquired he devoted to a well considered and practical plan of philanthropy. His career had shown him the great value of a trade to any man or woman. The schools taught every kind. of knowledge except that which would enable a man. to earn a living with his hands, which seemed to him the most important of all. He determined to do what he could remedy this defect, and in 1854, secured a block of land in New York City, at the junction of Third and Fourth Avenues, where, shortly after-wards, the cornerstone was laid of " The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art." It was completed five years later, and handed over to six trustees; a scheme of education was devised and special emphasis was laid upon " instruction in branches of knowledge by which men and women earn their daily bread; in laws of health and improvement of the sanitary condition of families as well as individuals; in social and political science, whereby communities and nations advance in virtue, wealth and power ; and finally in matters which affect the eye, the ear, and the imagination, and furnish a basis for recreation to the working classes." Free courses of lectures were established, a free reading room, and free instruction was given in various branches of the useful arts. From that day to this, Cooper Union has been an ever-growing force for progress in the life of the great city; it has been a pioneer in the work of industrial education, which has, of recent years, reached such great proportions.
Peter Cooper lived to see the institution which he had founded realize at least some of his hopes for it. He himself lived a most active life, taking a prominent part in many movements looking to the reform of national or civic abuses. In 1876, he was nominated by the national independent party as their candidate for president and received nearly a hundred thousand votes. Since his death, the institution which he founded has grown steadily in importance; other be-quests have been added to his, and Cooper Union has come to stand, in a way, for civic righteousness.
The year 1795 saw the birth of two children who were destined to do a great work for their country—George Peabody and Johns Hopkins. Both were the sons of poor parents, with little opportunity for achieving the sort of learning which is taught in schools ; but both, by hard experience with the world, gained another sort of learning which is often of more practical value. At the age of eleven, George Peabody was forced to begin to earn his own living, and a place was found for him in a grocery store. His habits were good, he did his work well, and finally, at the age of nineteen, was offered a partnership by another merchant, who had noticed and admired his energy and enthusiasm. The business increased, branch houses were established, and at the age of thirty-five, George Peabody found himself at the head of a great business, his elder partner having retired. He decided to make London his place of residence, and became a sort of guardian angel for Americans visiting the great English capital. He had never married, and it seemed almost as if the whole world were his family. His constant thought was of how he could elevate humanity, and he was not long in putting some of his plans into effect.
In 1852, his native town of Danvers, Massachusetts, celebrated her centennial, and her most distinguished citizen was, of course, invited to be present. He was too busy to attend, but sent a sealed envelope to be opened on the day of the celebration. The seal was broken at the dinner with which the celebration closed, and the envelope was found to contain two slips of paper. On one was written this toast, " Education—a debt due from present to future generations." The other was a check for twenty thousand dollars, afterwards increased to two hundred and fifty thousand, for the purpose of founding an Institute, with a free library and free course of lectures. Four years later, the Peabody Institute was dedicated, its founder being in attendance. Soon after-wards, he decided to build a similar Institute at Baltimore, only on a more elaborate scale, as befitting the greater city, and gave a million dollars for the purpose. It was opened in 1869, twenty thousand school children gathering to meet the donor and forming a guard of honor for him.
Two other great gifts marked his life—the sum of three million dollars for the erection of model tenements for the London poor, and a like sum for the education of the American negro. When, in 1869 the end came in London, a great funeral was held at Westminster Abbey, and the Queen of England sent her noblest man-of-war to bear in state across the Atlantic the body of " her friend," the poor boy of Danvers.
It is a strange coincidence that Baltimore, which had profited so greatly from George Peabody's philanthropy, should also be the object of that of Johns Hopkins. The latter was of Quaker stock, was raised on a farm, and at the age of seventeen became a clerk in his uncle's grocery store at Baltimore. He soon accumulated enough capital to go into business for himself, first as a grocer, then as a banker, and finally as one of the backers of the Baltimore & Ohio Railway. In 1873, he gave property valued at four and a half millions to found in the city of Baltimore a hospital, which, by its charter, is free to all, regardless of race or color; and three and a half millions for the endowment of Johns Hopkins University, which, opened in 1876, has grown to be one of the most famous schools of law, medicine and science in the country.
Another Quaker, Ezra Cornell, is also associated with the name of a great university. Reared among the hills of western New York, helping his father on his farm and in his little pottery, the boy soon developed considerable mechanical genius, and at the age of seventeen, with the help of only a younger brother, he built a new home for the family, a two-story frame dwelling, the largest and best in the neighborhood. He soon struck out into the world, engaged in businesses of various kinds with varying success, but it was not until he was thirty-six years old that he found his vocation.
It was at that time he became associated with S. F. B. Morse, who engaged him to superintend the erection of the first line of telegraph between Washington and Baltimore. Thereafter he devoted himself entirely to the development of the new invention; succeeded, after many rebuffs and disappointments, in organizing a company to erect a line from New York to Washington, and superintended its construction. It was the first of many, afterwards consolidated into the Western Union Telegraph Company, which, for many years, held a monopoly of the telegraph business of the country, and which made Ezra Cornell a millionaire. He himself was well advanced in years, and finally retired from active life, buying a great estate near Ithaca, New York, where he lived quietly, devising a method for the best disposition of his great fortune.
He at last decided to found an institution " where any person can find instruction in any study." Work was begun at once, and in 1868, Cornell College was formally opened, over four hundred students entering the first year. The founder's gifts to this institution aggregated over three millions. Many other bequests followed, which have made Cornell one of the most liberally-endowed colleges in the country. Fronde, the great English historian, visited it on one occasion, and afterwards said :
" There is something I admire even more than the university, and that is the quiet, unpretending man by whom it was founded. We have had such men in old times, and there are men in England who make great fortunes and who make claim to great munificence; but who manifest their greatness in buying great estates and building castles for the founding of peerages to be handed down from father to son. Mr. Cornell has sought for immortality, and the perpetuity of his name among the people of a free nation. There stands his great university, built upon a rock, to endure while the American nation endures."
The next great benefaction we have to record is, in some respects, unique. John Fox Slater was born in Slatersville, Rhode Island, in 1815. He was the son of Samuel Slater, proprietor of the greatest cotton-mills in New England, and he naturally succeeded to the business upon his father's death. The business prospered, receiving a great impetus from the invention of the cotton-gin, and Slater's wealth increased rapidly.
He had, on more than one occasion, visited the south and seen the negroes at work in the cotton fields. As time went on, the idea grew in his mind that he should do something for these poor laborers to whom, indirectly, his own fortune was due, and in 1882, he set aside the sum of one million dollars for the purpose of " uplifting the lately emancipated population of the Southern States, and their posterity." For this gift he received the thanks of Congress. No part of the gift is spent for grounds or buildings, but the whole income is spent in assisting negroes in industrial education and in preparing them to be the teachers of their own race. By the extraordinary ability of the fund's treasurer, it has been increased to a million and a half, although half a million has been expended along the lines contemplated by the donor. This, with the Peabody fund, comprises a powerful agency in working out the difficult problem of negro education.
The fortunes of such men as Peabody and Cornell and Hopkins and Peter Cooper seem small enough today when compared with the gigantic aggregations of money which a few men have succeeded in piling up. Not all of them, by any means, devote their wealth to philanthropy. Here, as in England, there are men concerned only with the idea of building up a family and a great estate; but there are a few who have labored as faithfully to use their wealth wisely as they did to accumulate it.
First of them is Leland Stanford, born in the valley of the Mohawk, studying law, and moving to Wisconsin to practise it, but losing his law library and all his property by fire, and finally joining the rush to the newly-discovered California gold-fields, where he arrived in 1852, being at that time twenty-eight years old. After some experience in the mines, he decided that there were surer ways of getting gold than digging for it, and set up a mercantile business in San Francisco, which grew rapidly in importance and proved the foundation of a vast fortune. He was the first president of the Central Pacific Railroad, and was in charge of its construction over the mountains, driving the last spike at Promontory Point, Utah, on the tenth of May, 1869. He was prominent in the politics of state and nation, being elected to the United States Senate in 1885.
It is not by his public life, however, that he will be remembered, for he did nothing there that was in any way memorable, but by his gift of twenty million dollars to found a great university at Palo Alto, California, in memory of his only son. On May 14, 1887, the cornerstone of this great institution was laid, and the university was formally opened in 1891. The idea of its founder was that it should teach not only the studies usually taught in college, but also other practical branches of education, such as telegraphy, type-setting, type-writing, book-keeping, and farming. This it has done, and so rapid has been its growth, that it now has over seventeen hundred students enrolled.
After Senator Stanford's death in 1893, the university was further endowed by his widow, Jane Lathrop Stanford, so that the present productive funds of the university, after all of the buildings have been paid for, amount to nearly twenty-five million dollars.
The second of the great givers of recent years is John Davison Rockefeller, whose name is synonymous with the greatest natural monopoly of modern times, the Standard Oil Company. His rise from clerk in a grocery store to one of the greatest capitalists in the history of the world is an. interesting one, as well as an important one in the commercial history of America. Born at Richford, New York, in 1839, his parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was a boy of fourteen, and such education as he had was secured in the Cleveland public schools. He soon left school for business, getting employment first as clerk in a commission house, and at nineteen being junior partner in the firm of Clark & Rockefeller, commission merchants.
At that time the petroleum fields of Pennsylvania were just beginning to be developed, and young Rookefeller's attention was soon attracted to them. He seems to have been one of the first to realize the vast possibilities of the oil business, and in 1865, he and his brother William built at Cleveland a refinery which they called the Standard Oil Works. They had little money, but unlimited nerve, and very soon began the work of consolidation, which culminated in the formation of the Standard Oil Trust in 1882, They were able to kill competition largely by securing from the railroads lower shipping rates than any competitor, in some cases going so far as to get a rebate on all oil shipped by competitors. That is, if a rail-road charged the Standard Oil Company one dollar to carry its oil between two points and charged a competitor a dollar and a quarter for the same service, that extra quarter went, not into the coffers of the railroad, but into the coffers of the Standard Oil Company. Such methods of business have since been made illegal, and the Standard is compelled to do business on the same basis as its competitors, but its vast resources and occupancy of the field give it an advantage which nothing can counteract.
The operations of the Standard Oil Company naturally piled up a great fortune for John D. Rockefeller—how great cannot even be estimated. Not until comparatively recent years, did he turn his attention from making money to spending it, but when he did, it was in a royal fashion. Ten mil lien dollars were given to the University of Chicago, which opened its doors in 1892, and now has an enrollment of over five thousand students ; ten million more were given to the General Education Board, organized in 1903, for the purpose of promoting education in the United States, without distinction of race, sex, or creed, and especially to promote and systematize various forms of educational beneficence; a million was given to Yale ; the great Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was founded at New York and liberally endowed; and Mr. Rockefeller's total benefactions probably exceed a total of thirty millions. This will soon be greatly increased, for he has just asked Congress to charter an institution to be known as the Rockefeller Foundation, which he will endow on an enormous scale to carry-out various plans of charity, through centuries to' come.
He seems recently to have experienced a change of heart, too, toward the public. During his early years, he gained a reputation for coldness and reserve, which made him probably the best-hated man in the United States. Then, suddenly, he changed about. Instead of refusing himself to reporters, he welcomed them; he seemed glad to talk, anxious to show the public that he was by no means such a monster as he was painted; and he has even, quite recently, written his life story and given it to a great magazine for publication. Seldom before has any public man shown such a sudden and complete change of heart. He still re-mains, in a sense, an enigma, for it seems possible that the smiling face he has lately turned to the world conceals the real man more effectively than the frowning countenance he wore in former years.
As the dramatist saves his finest effect for the fall of the curtain, so we have saved for the last the most remarkable giver in history—Andrew Carnegie, whose total benefactions amount to at least one hundred millions of dollars. A sum so stupendous would bankrupt many a nation, yet Mr. Carnegie is so far from bankrupt that his gifts show no sign of diminution. The story of how, starting out as a poor boy, on the lowest round of the ladder, he acquired this immense fortune, is a striking one.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland in 1835. His father was a weaver, at one time fairly well-to-do, for he owned four hand looms ; but the introduction of steam ruined hand-loom weaving, and after a long struggle, ending in hardship and poverty, the looms were sold at a sacrifice and the family set sail for America. Mrs. Carnegie happened to have two sisters living at Pittsburgh, and there the family settled—by one of those curious chances of fate, the very place in all the world best suited to the development of young Andrew Carnegie's peculiar genius.
At the age of twelve years, he became a wage-earner, his first position being that of bobbin-boy in a cotton mill at Alleghany City, where his salary was $1.20 a week. Pretty soon he was set to firing a small engine in the cellar of the mill, but he did not like this work, and finally secured a position as messenger boy in the office of the Atlantic & Ohio Telegraph Company, at Pittsburgh. One night, at the end of the month, he did not receive his pay with the rest of the boys, but was told to wait till the others had left the room. He thought that dismissal was coming, and wondered how he could ever go home and tell his father and mother ! But he found that he was to be given an increase in salary, from $11.25 to $13.50 a month.
" I ran all the way home," said Mr. Carnegie, in telling of the incident, long afterwards. " Talk about your millionaires ! All the millions I've made combined, never gave me the happiness of that rise of $2.25 a month. Arrived at the cottage where we lived, I handed my mother the usual $11.25, and that night in bed told brother Tom the great secret. The next morning, Sunday, we were all sitting at the breakfast table, and I said: 'Mother, I have something else for you,' and then I gave her the $2.25, and told her how I got it. Father and she were delighted to hear of my good fortune, but, motherlike, she said I deserved it, and then came. tears of joy."
It was at the dinner given, in 1907, in his honor as " Father of the Corps," by the surviving members of the United States Military Telegraph Corps of the Civil War, that Mr. Carnegie spoke these words, and he continued as follows:
" Comrades, I was born in poverty, and would not exchange its sacred memories with. the richest millionaire's son who ever breathed. What does he know about mother or father ? They are mere names to him. Give me the life of the boy whose mother is nurse, seamstress, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel and saint, all in one, and whose father is guide, exemplar, and friend. These are the boys who are born to the best fortune. Some men think that poverty is a dreadful burden, and that wealth leads to happiness. They have lived only one side; they imagine the other. I have lived both, and I know there is very little in wealth that can add to human happiness, beyond the small comforts of life. Millionaires who laugh are rare. My experience is that wealth is apt to take the smiles away."
But we are getting ahead of our story. That small increase in salary meant a good deal to the little family, whose father was working from dawn to dark in the cotton-mill, and whose mother was contributing what she could to the family earnings by binding shoes in the intervals of housework. Mean-time the superintendent of the company for which the boy was working happened to meet him while -visiting the Pittsburgh office, and it was discovered that both of them had been born near the same town.
in Scotland. The fact may have had something to do with the boy's subsequent promotion, and it is worth noting that forty years later, he. was able to secure for his old employer the United States consulship to the town of their birth. But for the time being, he was busy with his work as messenger-boy. He soon learned the Morse alphabet and practised making the signals early in. the morning before the operators arrived. He was soon able to send and receive messages by means of the Morse register—a steel pen which embossed the dots and dashes of the message on a narrow strip of paper. But young Carnegie soon progressed a step beyond this, and was soon able to read the messages by sound, without need of the register. It was, of course, only a short time after that when be was regularly installed as operator.
He was not to remain long in. the telegraph business, however, for Thomas A. Scott, superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Rail-road, offered him a position at a salary of $35 a month. Carnegie promptly accepted, and on February 1, 1853, at the age of seventeen, entered the em-ploy of the road. His promotion was rapid, and he rose to be superintendent of the Pittsburgh division before the success of his other ventures caused him to resign from the service. These ventures were, in the first place, investment in the newly-developed oil-fields of Pennsylvania,which yielded a great prof-it, and afterwards the establishment of a steel rolling-mill, in the development of which he found his true vocation, building up the most complete system of iron and steel industries ever controlled by an individual. Some idea of the value of the business may be gained from the fact that, when the United States Steel Corporation was organized in 1901 to take over Mr. Carnegie's interests he received for them, first mortgage bonds to the amount of three hundred million dollars.
It is this sum which he has been disposing of for years. Unlike most other philanthropists, he has not used his wealth to endow a great university, but has devoted it mainly to another branch of education, the establishment of free public libraries. He conceived the unique plan of offering a library building, completely equipped, to any community which would agree to maintain it suitably, and, by the be-ginning of 1909, had, under this plan, given nearly fifty-two millions of dollars for the erection of 1858 buildings, of which 1167 are in this country. Among his other great gifts was one of $12,000,000, for the founding at Washington of an institution " which shall, in the broadest and most liberal manner, en-courage investigation, research, and discovery, show the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind, and provide such buildings, laboratories, books, and apparatus as may be needed."
The sum of ten millions was given to the great Carnegie Institute, of Pittsburgh; still another ten millions were given to Scottish universities, and still another for the purpose of providing pensions for college professors in the United States and Canada ; and finally five millions for the establishment of a fund to be used for the benefit of the dependants of those losing their lives in heroic effort to save their fellow-men, or for the heroes themselves, if injured only. What great benefaction will next be announced cannot, of course, be foretold, but that some other announcement will some day be forth-coming can scarcely be doubted, since Mr. Carnegie has announced his ambition to die poor.
Although born in Scotland and maintaining a great estate there, he is au American out-and-out. He proved his patriotism during the Civil War by serving as superintendent of military railways and government telegraph lines in the east; and has proved it more than once since by enlisting in the fight for civic betterment and good government. Thousands of benefactions stand to his credit, besides the great ones which have been mentioned above, and it is doubtful if in the history of the world there has ever been another man armed with such power and using it in such a way.
We will end here the story of American benefactions, although scarcely the half of it has been told. During the last forty years, not less than one hundred millions of dollars have been given to American colleges; nearly as much again has been given for the endowment of hospitals, sanitariums and infirmaries; vast sums have been given for other educational or charitable purposes, so that, of the great fortunes which have been accumulated in this country, at least three hundred millions have been returned, in some form or other, to the people. And the end is not yet. Scientific philanthropy is as yet in its infancy. Just the other day, Mrs. Russell Sage set apart the sum of ten million dollars for a fund whose chief and almost sole purpose it is to obtain accurate information concerning social and economic conditions—in other words, to furnish the data upon which the scientific philanthropy of the future will be based. The disposition toward such. employment of great fortunes, and away from the selfish piling-up of wealth is one of the most cheering and promising developments of the new century in this great land of ours; the kings of finance are coming to realize that, after all, wealth is useless unless it is used for good, and the next half century will no doubt witness the establishment of philanthropic enterprises on a scale hitherto unknown to history.
We have already said that the highest form of philanthropy is not the giving of money, but the giving of self, and we shall close this chapter with a brief consideration of the careers of a few of the many men and women who, in the course of American history, have devoted their lives to the betterment of humanity, either as ministers of the gospel or as laborers for some great reform.
Among ministers, no name has been more widely known than that of Beecher—first, Lyman Beecher, and afterwards his brilliant son, Henry Ward. Beecher. Lyman Beecher was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1775, the son of a blacksmith,, and his youth was spent between blacksmithing and farming. His love of books soon manifested itself, how-ever, and means were found to prepare him for Yale, where he graduated at the age of twenty-two. A further year of study enabled him to enter the ministry. For sixteen years, he was pastor of the Congregational church at Litchfield, Connecticut, and soon took rank as the leading clergyman of his denomination. His eloquence, zeal and courage won a wide reputation, and in 1832, he was offered the presidency of the newly-organized Lane seminary, at Cincinnati. This place he held for twenty years, and his name was continued as president in the seminary catalogue, until his death.
Soon after he assumed this position, the slavery question began to assume the acute phase which ended in the Civil War. Mr. Beecher was, of course, an Abolitionist, and for a time lived in a turmoil, for many of the seminary students were from the south, while Cincinnati itself was so near the border-line that there was a great pro-slavery sentiment there. But during Mr. Beecher's absence, his trustees tried to allay excitement and, in a way, carry water on, both shoulders, by forbidding all further discussion of slavery in the seminary, and succeeded in nearly wrecking the institution, for the students withdrew in a body, and while a few were persuaded to return, the great majority refused to do so and laid the foundation of Oberlin College. For seven-teen years, Mr. Beecher labored to restore the seminary's prosperity, but finally abandoned the task in despair. He resigned the presidency in 1852, in-tending to devote his remaining years to the revision and publication of his works, but a paralytic stroke put an end to his active career.
Mr. Beecher's vigor of mind and body were imparted in a remarkable degree to his children, of whom he had thirteen. Of Harriet Beecher Stowe we have already spoken, but by far the most famous of them was Henry Ward Beecher. Born in 1813, and renouncing an early desire for a sea-faring life in favor of the ministry, he secured his first charge in 1837, and ten years later entered upon the pastorate of Plymouth church, in Brooklyn, where his chief fame was won. The church, one of the largest in the country, soon became inadequate to hold the crowds which flocked to hear his brilliant preaching. As a lecturer and platform orator he soon came to be in such demand that he was at last compelled to decline all such engagements. He took an active part in politics, holding that Christianity was not a series of dogmas, but a rule of everyday life, and did not hesitate to attack the abuses of the day from the pulpit. He was as facile with the pen as with the tongue, and his publications were many and important. All in all, he was one of the most influential and picturesque figures that has ever occupied an American pulpit.
Lyman Beecher was at all times a doughty antagonist, and in 1826 he had been called to Boston to take up the cudgels against the so-called Unitarian movement which had developed there, under the leadership of William Ellery Channing. For six years and a half, he wielded the cudgels of controversy, but with no great effect, for Channing was a foeman in every sense his equal. Channing had graduated at Harvard in 1798, a small man of an almost feminine sensibility, with a singular capacity for winning devoted attachment from all with whom he came in contact. For two years, he served as tutor in a family at Richmond, Virginia, where he acquired an abhorrence of slavery that lasted through life. Upon his return north, he began the study of theology at Cambridge, and in 1803, became pastor of a church in Boston, where he soon attracted attention by sermons of a rare " fervor, solemnity, and beauty." He was from the first identified with the movement of thought, which came to be known as Unitarian, and gave to the body so-called a consciousness of its position and a clear statement of its convictions with his sermon delivered at Baltimore, in 1819, on the occasion of the ordination of Jared Sparks. For the fifteen years succeeding, Channing was best known to the public as the leader of the Unitarian movement, and his sermons delivered during that period constitute the best body of practical divinity which that movement has produced. In later years, he was identified with many philanthropical and reform movements, and was one of the pillars of the anti-slavery cause, though never adopting the extreme opinions of the abolitionists. Of his rare quality and power as a pulpit orator many traditions remain, and his death at the age of sixty-two removed a great power for righteousness.
Even to give a list of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the attempt to carry the gospel of Christianity to heathen nations is beyond the limits of a book like this, but at least mention can be made of two of the earliest, Adoniram Judson and his wife, whose experiences form one of the most thrilling chapters in missionary history.
Adoniram Judson was born in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1788, and after graduating at Brown University, and taking a special course at Andover Theo-logical seminary, became deeply interested in foreign missions, and in 1810, determined to go to Burmah, Securing the support of the London Missionary Society, he sailed for Asia on the nineteenth of February, 1812. Two weeks before, he had married Ann Haseltine, who consented to share his work, and who sailed with him. On that long voyage, they had ample time to discuss and consider the various dogmas of their faith, and they became convinced that the baptism of the New Testament was immersion, and in accordance with this view, both of them were baptized by immersion upon reaching Calcutta. But this change of faith cut them off from the body which had sent them to India, and it was not until 1814 that the Baptists of America took the two missionaries under their care.
Meanwhile, Dr. Judson mastered the Burmese language and began his public preaching. Before long, he baptized his first convert, and pushed forward the work with renewed zeal, translating the gospels into Burmese, publishing tracts in that language, and undertaking the most perilous journeys. The Burmese government had never been friendly, and in 1824, seized the missionaries and threw them into prison. They were confined in the " death hole," reeking with foul air, without light, and were loaded with fetters. Just enough food was given them to keep them alive, and at last, stripped almost naked, they were driven like cattle under the burning sun, to another prison, where it was in-tended to burn them alive. They were saved by the intercession of Sir Archibald Campbell, but Mrs. Judson's health had been wrecked by the terrible experience. She never recovered, dying two years later. Undaunted by difficulties, Dr. Judson continued his work, completing his translation of the Bible, travelling over India, compiling a Burmese grammar and dictionary, but his labors at last undermined even his constitution and he died at sea in 1850, while on his way to the Isle of France.
Turn we now to Lucretia Mott, one of the most extraordinary women who ever lived in America. Born in Nantucket in 1793, the daughter of a sea-captain named Thomas Coffin, she was raised in the strict Quaker faith, to which her parents belonged. She began teaching while still a girl, and at the age of eighteen, married a fellow teacher, James Mott. It was not long after that, that she developed the " gift " of speaking at the Quaker meetings, simply, earnestly and eloquently. The Quakers had always opposed slavery and Lucretia Mott was soon working heart and soul against it. When the American Anti-Slavery Society was organized in 1833, she -was one of four women who joined it, and she proceeded immediately to organize the Female Anti-Slavery Society, the first organization of women in America working for a political purpose. Years of abuse followed, for in those days anti-slavery lecturers were tarred and feathered, their homes burned, and many other indignities heaped upon them. Throughout all this, Mrs. Mott never lost her serenity, and never suffered bodily injury. On one occasion, the annual meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society, in New York, was broken up by a mob, and some of the speakers were roughly handled. Perceiving that some of the women were badly frightened, Mrs. Mott asked her escort to look after them.
" But who will take care of you ? " he asked.
This man will," she said, and smilingly laid her hand upon the arm of one of the leaders of the mob. " He will see me safe through."
The rioter stared down at her for a moment, his conflicting thoughts betraying themselves upon his countenance, then his better nature triumphed and he led her respectfully to a place of safety.
She seems to have possessed the power of charming any audience, and carried her anti-slavery campaign even into Kentucky, where she commanded respectful attention. She was one of the first to take up the question of woman suffrage, and in 1848, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a few others, called the first Woman's Suffrage Convention ever held in this country. For fifty years she continued her public work, until she grew to be one of the best known. and best loved women in the country. She lived to see the slave freed, and when she died, a great con-course followed her body silently to the grave. As they stood there with bowed heads, a low voice asked, " Will no one say anything ? "
" Who can speak ? " another voice responded, " The preacher is dead."
In this day of pitying and enlightened treatment of the insane, it is difficult to realize the barbarities which they were called upon to endure a century ago. They were regarded almost as wild beasts, were kept chained in foul and loathsome places, fed with mouldy bread, filthy water, and allowed to die the most miserable death. For everyone used to believe that insanity was a mark of God's displeasure, and the outcast from His heart became equally an out-cast from the hearts of men. The insane were regarded with fear and loathing, and it was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that such men as Dr. Channing began to insist on the presence in human nature, even in its most degraded condition, of grains of good.
It was from Dr. Channing that Dorothea Lynde Dix drank in this theory with passionate faith, and proceeded at once to convert it into action. She was governess of Dr. Channing's children, and had Iong been interested in bettering the condition of onvicts; but now her attention was turned to the insane and she proceeded at once to master the whole question of insanity, its origin, its development, and its treatment, so far as it was then known. Enlisting the aid of a number of broad-minded men, among them Charles Sumner, she went to work. In one prison, she found two insane women, each confined in a small cage of planks; others were locked in closets, cellars, and stalls; some of them were naked, some were chained, some were regularly beaten and scourged. With all her data at hand, she addressed a memorial to the Massachusetts legislature, setting forth, in page after page, the details of these almost incredible horrors, which she herself had witnessed.
It exploded like a bombshell, for it was a terrific arraignment of the whole state. Her statements were denounced as untrue and slanderous, but a little investigation proved their truth, and with such men behind her as Channing, Horace Mann, and Samuel G. Howe, it was soon apparent that something would be done. The obstructions and delays of politicians were swept away before a steadily rising tide of public indignation, and a large appropriation was made by the legislature to provide proper quarters and proper treatment for insane persons. So Miss Dix won her first great victory, the forerunner of similar ones in almost every state in the union; for she travelled from state to state making the same investigations she had in Massachusetts, arousing public opinion, and compelling legislature after legislature to make adequate provision for the insane. The vastness of this campaign which Miss Dix planned deliberately and which she carried through until she had visited every state east of the Rocky Mountains, gives evidence to her extraordinary character. During the Civil War, she was superintendent of hospital nurses, having the entire control of their appointment and assignment. But the care of the insane was her life work. She resumed it at the close of the war, and carried it forward until her death.
We have already referred more than once, in the course of these chapters, to the anti-slavery agitation which ended in the Civil War. During the second quarter of the nineteenth century, it was the one great political question in America, upon which men were compelled to take one side or the other. From the first, there existed in the north a band of abolitionists—of men, in other words, who believed that the only solution of the slavery question was to put an end to that institution at once and forever. Of the persecutions which were visited on the abolitionists we have spoken when telling the story of Lucretia Mott. Social ostracism was the least of them.
Perhaps no one person in America did more to crystalize public sentiment against slavery than Lydia Maria Child. An author at the age of seven-teen, and writing continuously until her death, coming early under the influence of William Lloyd Garrison, that great leader of the abolitionists, it was inevitable that she should employ her pen to assist the cause. In 1833 appeared her " Appeal for that class of Americans called Africans," the first anti-slavery work printed in America in book form, ante-dating Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by nine-teen years. It attracted wide attention, enlisting the interest of such men as Dr. Channing, who walked from Boston to Roxbury to thank the author. But it was not without its penalties, for society closed its doors to Mrs. Child, many .of her friends deserted her, and she was made the subject of much cruel comment. However, she became more and more interested in the anti-slavery crusade, edited the " National Anti-Slavery Standard," and wrote pamphlet after pamphlet. When John Brown was taken prisoner, she wrote him a letter of sympathy, which drew forth a courteous rebuke from Governor Wise, of Virginia, and a letter from the wife of Senator Mason, the author of the fugitive slave law, threatening her with future damnation. These letters were published and had a circulation of three hundred thousand copies. Wendell Phillips paid an eloquent tribute to her character and influence, at her funeral: " She was the kind of woman," he said, " one would choose to represent woman's entrance into broader life. Modest, womanly, sincere, solid, real, loyal, to be trusted, equal to affairs, and yet above them ; a companion with the password of . every science and all literature."
But however valuable the services of women like Lucretia Mott and Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe were in the fight against slavery, the leader and high priest of the movement was William Lloyd Garrison. Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1805, his was an unhappy boyhood, for his father, a sea-captain of intemperate and adventurous habits, left his family, soon after the boy was born, and was never seen again. The mother, a woman of unusual strength of character, went to work to earn a living for herself and her son, and it was to her careful training that his development was due. At fourteen years of age, he was apprenticed to a printery and served until he was of age. From the first he was remarkable for his firmness of moral principle and for an inflexible adherence to his convictions, no matter at what cost to himself.
He soon showed, too, that he was destined for something more than a printer—a man who puts in print the ideas of others—that he had ideas of his own. His apprenticeship over, he started a paper of his own, but it was too reformatory for the taste of the day, and proved a failure. The most noteworthy thing in connection with it was the publication of some poems which had been sent in anonymously, and which Garrison, recognizing their merit, discovered to be the work of John G. Whittier, then entirely unknown. He visited the poet, encouraged him to keep on writing, and laid the foundation of a friendship which was broken only by death.
Going to Boston after the failure of his paper, Garrison for a time edited the " National Philanthropist," devoted to prohibition. This paper, too, was a failure, but at Boston Garrison met a man whose influence changed the whole course of his life. His name was Benjamin Bundy. He was a Quaker, and at that time thirty-nine years of age. He was a saddler by trade, but for thirteen years had devoted his life to the anti-slavery cause, forming anti-slavery societies and editing a little monthly paper with a portentous name—" The Genius of Universal Emancipation." Bundy, whose home was in Baltimore, had journeyed to New England in the hope of interesting the clergy in the cause. In this he was bitterly disappointed, but he mightily stirred the heart of young Garrison, who soon became his ally and afterwards his partner in the conduct of the paper. His vigorous editing of it was soon a national sensation. He had seen with dismay the in-difference with which the north regarded the great issue—an indifference grounded on the belief that slavery was intrenched by the constitution and that all discussion of it was a menace to the Union. He realized that this indifference could be broken only by heroic measures, and he took the ground that since slavery was wrong, every slave had a right to instant freedom, and that immediate emancipation was the duty of the master and of the state.
Baltimore was at that time one of the centres of the slave trade. There were slave-pens on the principal streets, and Garrison soon witnessed scenes which would have touched a less tender heart. In the first issue of his paper, he denounced this traffic as " domestic piracy," and named some men engaged in it, among them a vessel-owner of his own town of Newburyport. This man immediately had Garrison arrested for "gross and malicious libel," he was found guilty, fined fifty dollars and costs, and as there was no one to pay this, was thrown into prison.
Garrison took his imprisonment calmly enough, but his old friend, John G. Whittier, was deeply distressed and appealed to Henry Clay to secure the release of the " guiltless prisoner." This Clay would probably have done, but he was anticipated by an-other friend of Garrison's, Arthur Tappan, of New York, who sent the money to pay the fine, and the young agitator was free again, after an imprisonment of forty-nine days. He had not been idle while in prison, but had prepared a series of lectures on slavery, which he proceeded at once to de-liver. Then, on the first day of January, 1831, he began in Boston the publication of a weekly paper called the " Liberator," which he continued for thirty-five years, until its fight was won and slavery was abolished.
How well that fight was waged history has shown. In his first number he announced : " I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, to speak, or write with moderation. No ! No ! Tell the man whose home is on fire to give a moderate alarm ; 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."
And heard he was. The whole land was soon filled with excitement; the apathy of years was broken. From the south came hundreds of letters, threatening him with death if he did not desist, and the state of Georgia offered a reward of $5,000 for his apprehension. In the north, anti-slavery societies were formed everywhere, and the movement grew with great rapidity, in spite of powerful efforts to crush it. There were riots everywhere. Garrison was dragged through the streets of Boston with a rope around his body and his life was saved only by lodging him in jail; Elijah Lovejoy was slain at Alton, Illinois, while defending his press; Marius Robinson, an anti-slavery lecturer, was tarred and feathered in Mahoning County, Ohio ; in the cities of the south, mobs broke into the postoffice and made bon-fires of anti-slavery papers and pamphlets found there. Quarrels and dissension in the anti-slavery ranks developed in time, but when the Civil War was over, the leaders of the Republican party united with Garrison's friends in raising for him the sum of $30,000, and after his death the city of Boston raised a statue to his memory. Perhaps no better estimate of him has ever been made than that of John A. Andrew, war governor of Massachusetts:
" The generation which preceded ours regarded him only as a wild enthusiast, a fanatic, or a public. enemy. The present generation sees in him the bold and honest reformer, the man of original, self-poised, heroic will, inspired by a vision of universal justice, made actual in the practice of nations; who, daring to attack without reserve the worst and most powerful oppression of his country and his time, has out-lived the giant wrong he assailed, and has triumphed over the sophistries by which it was maintained."
Closely second to Garrison in the awakening of the public conscience to the enormities of slavery was Theodore Parker, one of the purest, most self-sacrificing and interesting of personalities. He came of good stock. His grandfather, John Parker, commanded the little company of minute-men who held the bridge at Lexington on that fateful nineteenth of April, 1775 ; his father a farmer, and Theodore himself the youngest of eleven children. The family was poor and the boy was brought up to hard labor, with short intervals of schooling now and then. But his thirst for knowledge seems to have been insatiable, and he read everything he could lay his hands on, even to translations of Homer and Plutarch and Rollin's " Ancient History." A century ago, a book was a far greater treasure than it is to-day, when their very number has made us in a way contemptuous of them; and the few which young Parker could secure were read and re-read and learned through and through. His memory was amazing, and at the age of twenty he -walked from his home in Lexington to Cambridge, took the entrance examination for Harvard College, passed with honors, and, walking home again, told his unsuspecting father, then in bed, of his success. He could not be spared from the farm, however, nor was there any money to pay for his maintenance at Cambridge, so he continued working on the farm, keeping up with his class by studying in the evenings and going to Cambridge only to take the examinations.
He undertook teaching after that, and gradually worked his way toward the ministry, to which he was admitted in 1837. He was soon called to Boston, to a congregation independent of sectarian bonds, and here he reached the culmination of his fame, attracting the most cultured people of the city by his breadth of knowledge, warmth of feeling and intensity of conviction. His interest in slavery began early, and by 1845, his share in the anti-slavery struggle had become engrossing. He threw himself into it heart and soul, and no one did more to awaken the conscience of the north. His speeches, letters, sermons, tracts and lectures had an immense influence; he took an active part in aiding runaway slaves to get to Canada, and his labors were incessant and prodigious. His health at last gave way, and the end came in 1860, at Florence, Italy, where he lies buried.
Parker's immense influence was due to the brain rather than to the heart. He possessed no grace of person, music of voice, or charm of manner, none of that fascination which is a part of the great orator. He was a white-hot flame which scorched and seared, an intellect pure and piercing, a self-made instrument to expose the shams of society.
Closely associated with Garrison and Parker in the fight against slavery, and in some ways more famous than either, was Wendell Phillips. The very opposite of Parker, handsome in person, cultivated in manner, with a charm of personality seldom equalled, the two yet worked hand in hand for a common cause, the one, as it were, supplementing the other.
Wendell Phillips was the son of John Phillips, the first mayor of Boston, and was a year younger than Theodore Parker. He went the way of all well-to-do Boston youth through Harvard, graduating there in 1831, without distinguishing himself particularly, except by his skill in debate and his finished elocution. During one of the revivals of religion which followed the settlement of Dr. Lyman Beecher at Boston, he became a convert, and this marked the be-ginning of his interest in the great moral question of the day, slavery. It soon became overwhelming, and was given point and passion by a spectacle which he witnessed on October 21, 1835.
He had studied for the law, been admitted to the bar, and opened an office, and looking from his office window on that October day, he saw a mob break up an anti-slavery meeting on the street below, pull William Lloyd Garrison off the platform, tear his clothes from his back, throw a rope around him and drag him through the streets, ready to hang him, and prevented from doing so only by a ruse of the mayor, who got Garrison into the jail and locked him up for safety. That spectacle moved the young lawyer through and through, and from that moment he was an avowed Abolitionist.
" If clients do not come," he had said to a friend a short time before, " I will throw myself heart and soul into some good cause and devote my life to it."
Clients would have come, no doubt, but the good cause came first. His opportunity came in 1837, when Elijah Lovejoy was murdered by a mob at Al-ton, Illinois, for publishing an anti-slavery paper. Phillips, stirred with indignation, arranged for a public meeting at Faneuil Hall, and was of course present, but with no expectation of speaking. Dr. Channing made an impressive address, and one or two others followed, when James T. Austin, attorney-general of the state, and bitterly opposed to the anti-slavery agitation, arose. He eulogized the Alton murderers, comparing them with the patriots of the Revolution, and declared that Lovejoy had " died as the fool dieth." Some instinct led the chair to call upon Wendell Phillips to reply. He consented, and as he stepped upon the platform won instant admiration by his dignity, his self-possession, and his manly beauty.
"Mr. Chairman," he began, "when I heard the gentleman who has just spoken lay down principles which placed the rioters, incendiaries, and murderers of Al-ton side by side with Otis and Hancock, with Quincy and Adams, I thought those pictured lips [pointing to the portraits in the hall] would have broken into voice, to rebuke the recreant American, the slanderer of the dead. Sir, for the sentiments he has uttered on soil consecrated by the prayers of Puritans and. the blood of patriots, the earth should have yawned and swallowed him up."
The effect of the whole speech was tremendous. At last the abolitionists had found a champion equal to the best, and from that hour to the end of the anti-slavery conflict, he was foremost in the fight. He accepted without reservation the doctrines which Garrison had formulated : that slavery was under all circumstances a sin and that immediate emancipation was a fundamental right and duty. Up and down the land, obeying every call so far as his strength would permit, he travelled, lecturing against slavery, asking no pecuniary reward. He was soon a great popular favorite—the greatest, perhaps, who over mounted a lecture platform in America,—and gained a hearing in quarters where, before, abolitionists had been hated and derided. His tact in winning over a turbulent audience was extraordinary; the strongest opponents of the anti-slavery cause felt the spell of his power, and often confessed the justice of his arguments.
When that fight was won and the negro had gained his freedom, Wendell Phillips remained the foremost critic of public men and measures in America, and year after year, he devoted his great gifts to guiding popular opinion. A champion of temperance, of the rights of labor, of the Indians, of equal suffrage, he stood forth until his death an inspiring and au-gust figure a man who devoted his life wholly to the welfare of his country. '
One of the reforms which Wendell Phillips advocated was that of woman suffrage, but this movement has come to be particularly associated with the name of Susan B. Anthony. Like her great predecessor in that cause, Lucretia Mott, Miss Anthony was a Quaker, and the Quakers, it should be remembered, made no distinction of sex when it came to speaking in their meeting-houses. Her father was well-to-do, and she received a careful education, and in 1847, first spoke in public. The temperance movement absorbed her energies at first; then the Abolitionist cause; and finally the work of securing equal civil rights for women. During the winter of 1854, she held woman suffrage meetings in every county in New York State, and the remainder of her life was devoted to this cause.
Her most prominent co-worker was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whose inspiration came directly from Lucretia Mott, whom she met in 1840, and with whom she joined, eight years later, in issuing a call for the first woman's suffrage convention. The convention was held at Mrs. Stanton's home at Seneca Falls, New York, and from that time forward, she devoted herself entirely to lecturing and writing upon the subject. That the cause of woman suffrage has made so little headway is certainly not because of a lack of devoted and accomplished advocates ; it seems rather to be due to the fact that it has not yet succeeded in winning over the great body of women, who have held aloof and viewed the movement with indifference, if not with suspicion.
We cannot close this consideration of the anti-slavery movement without some reference to that strange fanatic, John Brown, who headed a forlorn hope and gave up his life for an idea. It was the custom at one time to consider John Brown a saint, at the north, and a very emissary of Satan, at the south. One estimate was as untrue as the other. He was merely a misguided old man, grown a little mad, perhaps, from long brooding over one subject.
He was born at Torrington, Connecticut, in 1800, his father being a shoemaker and tanner, who, five years later, moved to Hudson, Ohio, then a mere out-post in the wilderness. He was soon expert in woodcraft, and he relates how, when he was six years old, an Indian boy gave him a yellow marble, the first he had ever seen, and which he treasured for a long time. He had little or no schooling, and a project to educate him for the ministry was cut short by an inflammation of the eyes. He grew up into a tall, handsome man, headstrong, but humane and kind, and easily moved to tears. He married young and had many children, for some of whom a tragic fate was waiting.
He soon became interested in the anti-slavery movement, and, by 1837, was so absorbed by it that he made his family take a solemn oath of active op-position to slavery. Ten years later, he unfolded to Frederick Douglass a plan for a negro insurrection in the Virginia mountains, but nothing came of it. From that time forward, the project seems to have slumbered at the back of his mind, and he grew more and more certain that the only way to end slavery was to arm the blacks and encourage them to fight for freedom. In 1854, his sons emigrated to Kansas, then in the throes of civil war over the slavery question, and their father busied himself raising money to send arms and ammunition into the troubled state. Finally, in September, 1855, he himself removed to Kansas, became the captain of a band of Free State Bangers, took part in the fight at Lawrence, and in some other affairs, and then, proceeding to the shores of Pottawatomie creek, where several pro-slavery men lived, seized five of them and put them to death.
For this deed he never experienced any compunction; he believed that he was directed by Providence in these " executions," as he called them, and after they were over, he held divine services. His fearful deed sent a thrill of horror through the country, and Brown and his sons became marked men. Their houses were burned, and one of the sons went insane from brooding over the father's deed. Brown him-self was charged with murder, treason and conspiracy, and a price put on his head, but no one at-tempted to arrest him. Another of his sons was soon afterwards shot and killed by pro-slavery men and Brown, hastily collecting a small force, attacked the marauders, and killed or wounded many of them, himself being injured by a spent rifle ball. The fight was known as " the battle of Osawatomie," and Brown was there after wards known as " Osawa tomie " Brown.
But the fight in Kansas was about won, and Brown again took up the idea of a slave insurrection. He went to Boston to raise the necessary money, and succeeded in getting it without much trouble, though most of the people who gave it to him had only the haziest kind of an idea of what it was he proposed to do. He bought rifles and ammunition, and also had a thousand pikes made with which to arm the negroes, who, of course, would not know how to use the rifle. Then he got together a band of young men, secured a military instructor; and on July 3, 1859, he appeared at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, hired a small farm near there, and quietly assembled his men and munitions.
Harper's Ferry had been selected because there was a well-equipped arsenal there which would furnish the arms and munitions which he had been unable to buy, and would also serve as a base of operations. Brown intended to proceed to the mountains, gathering up the slaves as he went, and establish headquarters in some strong position, where he could drill his forces and prepare for a raid on the rest of the state. He believed the slaves would flock to him, and that he would soon be at the head of a great army. He tried to get Frederick Douglass to join him, but Douglass refused, and, at last, on the night of Sunday, October 16, 1859, at the head of a little band of twenty-two men, whites and negroes, he moved on the arsenal. They reached the covered bridge over the Potomac without adventure, crossed until they were near the Virginia side, seized the solitary sentinel who challenged them, broke down the armory gate with a sledge hammer, seized the remainder of the guard, and a few citizens, who attempted to interfere, and were soon firmly in possession of not only the arsenal, but also the little town.
Meanwhile, the country round about was arming, and by noon, of Monday, Brown was so surrounded that he could not escape. Why he had not got away to the mountains in the morning, as he had intended doing, no one knows. The Virginia militia gathered, and in the early evening, a company of United States marines arrived from Washington, under command of Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart. They soon found out how small Brown's force was, carried the arsenal by assault, and took Brown and the survivors of his little band prisoners. Brown's two sons were dead, as were seven others of his followers, and seven more had succeeded in escaping, though two were afterwards captured.
The rest is soon told. Brown was swiftly tried and convicted of " treason and conspiring and advising with slaves and others to rebel, and of murder in the first degree," was sentenced to death, and was hanged on December 2, 1859. The affair made the South wild with rage and apprehension, for a slave insurrection was a thing to be trembled at, and Brown's execution similarly affected his friends at the North. He had once remarked, " I am worth a good deal more to hang than for any other purpose," and this was, in a sense, true, for in the words of the great marching song of the Northern armies during the war which followed, " his soul was marching on."
Another branch of philanthropy with which the name of a woman is closely identified is that of caring for the wounded and destitute in time of war or disaster, and the woman is Clara Barton. Born in Massachusetts about 1830, she started in life as a school-teacher, but in 1854 secured a position in the patent office at Washington, where she remained until the opening of the Civil War. The sight of the suffering in the Washington hospitals revealed to her her real vocation, and she determined to devote her-self to the care of wounded soldiers on the battle-field. This work of mercy was one that carried with it a wide appeal, and she soon secured influential backing and support.
Her work was so effective that in 1864, she was appointed " lady in charge " of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James, and in the following year was sent to Andersonville, Georgia, to identify and mark the graves of the Union soldiers buried there. Soon afterwards she was placed by President Lincoln in charge of the search for missing men of the Union armies—a work of the first importance, to which she devoted all her energies, and which she carried on for some years after the war closed, raising the necessary money by lectures and appeals for donations. Thousands of families at the North have reason to thank her for definite knowledge as to the fate of their loved ones.
Her health broke down under the strain, at last, and she went for a rest to Switzerland, but the outbreak of the Franco-German war, in 1870, called her again to duty, assisting the grand duchess of Baden in e preparation of military hospitals, and giving the ed Cross Society the benefit of her experience. In 871, at the request of the German authorities, she superintended the supplying of work to the poor of Strasburg, after that city had been reduced by siege ; and after the fall of Paris, she was placed in charge of the distribution of supplies to the destitute of that great city. At the close of the war, she was decorated with the golden cross of Baden and the iron cross of Germany.
Although the Red Cross societies in Europe had been established as early as 1863, and an international organization completed six years later, the society was not officially recognized by the United States until 1882. The American Association of the Red Cross was at once organized, and Miss Bar-ton chosen its president, a position which she held without opposition for many years. Its object as stated by its constitution is " to organize a system of national relief and apply the same in mitigating suffering caused by war, pestilence, famine and other calamities." Since then, every such occasion has found the society in the forefront of relief work, and it has distributed many millions in assuaging human suffering.
Still another great reform, ridiculed at first, but now recognized as one of the most beneficent movements of the age is associated with a single name.
The reform is the protection of dumb animals, and the name is that of Henry Bergh.
Born in New York City in 1823, the son of a wealthy ship-builder and inheriting his father's for. tune at the age of twenty, Henry Bergh, after spending some years in Europe, a portion of them in. the diplomatic service of the United States, returned to this country, determined to devote the remainder of his life to the interests of animals.
It was a new idea which he presented to the public, met at first with indifference, then with ridicule and opposition. But as a bald worker in the streets of New York, by a relentless activity in carrying eases of ill-treatment of animals to the courts, and. au eloquent advocacy of his cause on the floor of the legislature, he soon won friends and support, as every great cause is bound to do, and finally succeeded in. so winning over public sentiment that, in 1866, the legislature passed the laws which he had prepared, creating the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with himself as president. He gave not only his time, but his property to the work, and soon had the society in a prosperous condition, with branches forming in other cities. Indeed, the idea which he fostered has spread to the whole country, and nowhere may animals be mistreated with impunity. The idea that man is responsible not only for the happiness of his fellows, but for the well-being of his beasts marks a long stride forward in ethics.
Bergh's influence, indeed, extended beyond this country. Not only did practically every state in the Union enact the laws for the protection of animals which he had procured from the state of New York, but Brazil, the Argentine Republic, and many other foreign countries did likewise. In 1874, Bergh rescued a little girl from inhuman treatment, and this led to the formation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which has also done a great work.
No doubt before Bergh's time, there were many people who were pained to see either children or animals mistreated and who passed by with averted eyes. Bergh did not pass by. He made it his business, in the first place, to secure adequate laws for the punishment of cruelty, and in the second place, to pro-vide means for the enforcement of those laws.
There are many of us to-day who are shocked at the injustice and suffering in the world, and who would welcome its regeneration. But wishing for a thing never got it. Nor does philanthropy consist merely in wishing men well. It means labor and self-sacrifice, and frequently obloquy and mis-understanding. The reward of the reformer is usually a stone and a sneer, if nothing worse. But when a man's heart is in the work, stones and sneers seem only to spur him on. They are like wind to a flame, fanning it white-hot. And it is a wonderful commentary on the essential goodness of human nature that never yet, in the history of mankind, has a real and needed reform failed, in the end, of success.
Among latter-day clergymen in America, none has achieved a wider reputation or a greater personal popularity than Phillips Brooks. Born in Boston in 1835, a graduate of Harvard, ordained to the Episcopal ministry at the age of twenty-four, and ten years later called to the rectorship of Trinity church, Boston, it was in this latter field, which he would never leave, that he showed himself to be one of the strongest personalities and noblest preachers of his age. No more striking figure ever appeared in a pulpit. Of magnificent physique, with a striking and massive head and handsome countenance,breathing the very spirit of youth, in spite of his grey hair, he had the interest and attention of any audience be-fore he opened his lips.
Phillips Brooks has been compared to Henry Ward Beecher, and in many things they were alike. But the former's culture, while perhaps less varied than Beecher's, was deeper and richer, his sermons were Iess brilliant but cast in better form, his appeal was narrower but to a far more influential class. He was, in a word, the preacher of the intellectual. No one who heard him preach ever failed to be startled at first by his tremendous rapidity of delivery —averaging two hundred words a minute—or failed to find himself, at first, lagging behind the equal rapidity of thought. But once accustomed to these —once realizing that, in listening to him there could be no inattention or wandering of wits—his sermon became a source of keenest intellectual delight and noblest spiritual inspiration.
Phillips Brooks often said that he had to preach rapidly, or not at all. In youth he had suffered from something resembling an impediment in his speech, and more measured utterance gave it a chance to recur. Certainly, no one who ever listened to his fluent and limpid utterance would have suspected it. But he was far more than a great preacher. By his broad tolerance, his lofty character and immense personal influence, he became, in a way, a national figure, the common property of the nation which felt itself the richer for possessing him. A gracious and courtly figure, with a heart as wide as the human race, he lives, somehow, as the true type of clergy-man, whose concern is humanity and whose field the world.
Which brings us to the life of the last man we shall consider in this chapter, a man the opposite in many ways of the great clergyman whose career we have just noted, and yet, like him, of broadest sympathies and most sincere convictions ; a man whose life was more picturesque, whose battle against fate was harder, and whose achievement was even more remarkable—the greatest evangelist the mod-ern world has ever produced, Dwight L. Moody. If ever a man labored for his fellow-men, he did, and the story of his life reads almost like a romance.
He was born at Northfield, Massachusetts, in 1837, the son of a stone-mason, who, disheartened and worn out by business reverses, died when the boy was only four years old. There were nine children, the oldest only fifteen, and when the father's creditors came and took every possession they had in the world, the future looked dark indeed. The mother was urged to place the children in various homes, but she managed to keep them together by doing housework for the neighbors and tilling a little garden.
As soon as he was old enough, Dwight was put to work on a farm, but his earnings were small, and finally, when he was seventeen, he started for Boston to look for something better. He managed to get a position in a shoe-store, and there came under the influence of Edward Kimball, who persuaded him to become a Christian and to join a church. But he was not admitted to membership for nearly a year; so poor was his command of language and so awkward his sentences that it was doubted if he under-stood Christianity at all, and even when he was admitted, the committee stated that they thought him " very unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of gospel truth; still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness." How blind, indeed, we often are to the possibilities in human nature !
At the age of nineteen, Dwight removed to Chicago, secured another position as shoe-salesman, and offered his services to a mission school as a teacher. His appearance made anything but a favorable impression, but finally he was told that he might teach provided he brought his own scholars. The next Sunday he walked in at the head of a score of raga muffins he had gathered up along the wharves. The divine fire seems to have been working in him ; he was finding words with which to express himself, and burning for a wider field. So he rented a room in the slum districts which had been used as a saloon and opened a Sunday school there. It was an immense success, soon outgrew the little room, and was removed to a large hall, where, every Sunday, a thousand boys and girls attended. For six years, Moody conducted that school, sweeping it out and doing the janitor work himself, attending to his business as salesman throughout the week. But in 1860, at the age of twenty-three, he decided to devote all his time to Christian work.
He had no income, and to keep his expenses as low as possible, he slept at night on a bench in his school, and cooked his own food. Then the Civil War began, and he erected a tent at the camp near Chicago where the recruits were gathered, and labored there all day, sometimes holding eight or ten meetings. He went with the men to the front, and was at the desperate battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and Chattanooga. The war over, he took up again his work in Chicago. The great fire of 1871 swept away his church, but he soon had a temporary structure erected, and labored on.
By this time, his fame had got abroad, and finally in 1873, his great opportunity came. Accompanied by Ira D. Sankey, the famous singer of hymns, he started on an evangelist tour of Great Britain. At his first meeting only four people were present; at his last, thirty thousand crowded to hear him. In Ireland, the crowds sometimes covered six acres, and during the four months he spent in London, over two million people heard him preach. Great Britain had never before experienced such a religious awakening; but it was as nothing to the reception given him when he returned to America two years later. There are many people still living who remember those wonderful revivals in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, with their great choirs, and Ira Sankey's singing, and Moody's soul-stirring talks. From that time forward he was easily the first evangelist in the world—perhaps the greatest the world had ever seen.
It is doubtful if any man ever faced and preached to so many people. He spoke to thousands night after night, week in and week out. In his themes he kept close to life, and few men were his equal in making scriptural biography vivid and realistic; in reconstructing scriptural scenes and setting them, as it were, bodily before his audience. He was not a cultured man, as we understand the word—not a man of broad learning; perhaps such learning would only have weakened him—nor did he have the presence and voice which go so far toward the equipment of the orator. But he burned with an intense conviction, and his sermons were so free from art, so direct, so persuasive, that they were perfectly adapted to the end he sought—the conversion of human beings.
GIRARD, STEPHEN. Born near Bordeaux, France, May 24, 1750; sailed as cabin-boy to West Indies, and then to America; established in Philadelphia, 1769; financial mainstay of government in war of 1812; died at Philadelphia, December 26, 1831.
SMITHSON, JAMES LEWIS MACIE. Born in France in 1765; matriculated from Pembroke College, Oxford, England, 1782; Fellow Royal Society, 1786; distinguished as student of mineralogy and chemistry; died at Genoa, Italy, June 27, 1829.
COOPER, PETER. Born at New York City, February 12, 1791; apprenticed to carriage-maker, 1808 ; engaged in various enterprises and established Canton Iron Works, Canton, Maryland, 1830; Greenback candidate for President, 1876; died at New York, April 4, 1883.
PEABODY, GEORGE. Born at Danvers, Massachusetts, February 18, 1795; settled in London as a banker, 1837; died there, November 4, 1869.
HOPKINS, JOHNS. Born at Waterbury, Connecticut, May 19, 1795; founded house of Hopkins & Brothers, 1822; chairman of finance committee Baltimore & Ohio railroad, 1855; died at Baltimore, December 24, 1873.
CORNELL, EZRA. Born at Westchester Landing, New York, January 11, 1807; mechanic and miller at Ithaca, New York, 1828—41; member of State Assembly, 1862-63 ; State Senator, 1864—67; died at Ithaca, New York, December 9, 1874.
SLATER, JOHN Fox. Born at Slatersville, Rhode Island, March 4, 1815; established Slater Fund, 1882; died at Norwich, Connecticut, May 7, 1884.
STANFORD, LELAND. Born at Watervliet, New York, March 9, 1824; Republican governor of California, 1861–63; United States Senator, 1885–93; died at Palo Alto, California, June 20, 1893.
ROCKEFELLER, JOHN DEVISOR. Born at Riehford, New York, July 8, 1839; partner of Clark & Rockefeller, 1858; built Standard Oil Works, Cleveland, Ohio, 1865; organized Standard Oil Company, 1870; Standard Oil Trust, 1882.
CARNEGIE, ANDREW. Born at Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, November 25, 1837; came to United States, 1848; telegraph messenger boy, 1851; introduced Bessemer steel process to America, 1868; formed Carnegie Steel Company, 1899; merged into United States Steel Corporation, 1901, when he retired from business.
BEECHER, LYMAN. Born at New Haven, Connecticut, October 12, 1775; pastor of various Congregational churches, 1799–1832; president Lane Theological Seminary, 1832–M; died at Brooklyn, New York, January 10, 1863.
BEECHER, HENRY WARD. Born at Litchfield, Connecticut, June 24, 1813; graduated at Amherst, 1834; pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn, 1847–87; founder of the Independent and the Christian Union; died at Brooklyn, March 8, 1887.
CHANNING, WILLIAM ELLERY. Born at Newport, Rhode Island, April 7, 1780; graduated at Harvard, 1798; pastor of Federal Street Church, Boston, 1803–42 ; died at Bennington, Vermont, October 2, 1842.
JUDSON, ADONIRAM. Born at Malden, Massachusetts, August 9, 1788; graduated at Brown, 1807; started as missionary to Burmah, 1812, and remained in far East until his death, April 12, 1850.
MOTT, LUCRETIA. Born at Nantucket, Massachusetts, January 3, 1793; entered ministry of Friends, 1818; assisted at formation of American anti-slavery society, 1833; called first woman suffrage convention, 1848; died near Philadelphia, November 11, 1880.
DIX, DOROTHEA LYNDE. Born at Worcester, Massachusetts, 1805; devoted her whole life to work for paupers, convicts, and insane persons ; superintendent of hospital nurses during Civil War; died at Trenton, New Jersey, July 19, 1887.
CHILD, LYDIA MARIA. Born at Medford, Massachusetts, February 11, 1802; editor National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1840 13; published a number of novels;- died at Wayland, Massachusetts, October 20, 1880.
GARRISON, WILLIAM LLOYD. Born at Newburyport, Massachusetts, December 10, 1805; began publication of the Liberator, 1831; president American Anti-Slavery Society, 1843–65; died at New York City, May 24, 1879.
PARKER, THEODORE. Born at Lexington, Massachusetts, August 24, 1810; studied at Cambridge Divinity School, 1834–36; Unitarian clergyman at Roxbury, 1837; head of an independent society at Music Hall, Boston, 1846; died at Florence, Italy, May 10, 1860.
PHILLIPS, WENDELL. Born at Boston, November 29, 1811; educated at Harvard; admitted to the bar, 1834; leading orator of the Abolitionists, 1837–61; president of the Anti-Slavery Society, 1865–70; Prohibitionist candidate for governor of Massachusetts, 1870; died at Boston, February 2, 1884.
ANTHONY, SUSAN BROWNELL. Born at South Adams, Massachusetts, February 15, 1820; became agitator in cause of woman suffrage, organized National American Woman Suffrage Association and was its president for many years; died March 13, 1906.
STANTON, ELIZABETH CADY. Born at Johnstown, New York, November 12, 1815; graduated at Willard Seminary, 1832; met Lucretia Mott, 1810; held first woman's suffrage convention, 1848; associated with Susan B. Anthony; died at New York City, October 26, 1902.
BROWN, JOHN. Born at Torrington, Connecticut, May 9, 1800; removed with parents to Ohio, 1805; emigrated to Kansas, 1855; won battle of Osawatomie, August, 1856; seized arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, October 16, 1859 ; captured, October 18 ; tried by Commonwealth of Virginia, October 27–31; hanged at Charlestown, Virginia, December 2, 1859.
BARTON, CLARA. Born at Oxford, Massachusetts, 1821; superintended relief work on battle-fields during Civil War; laid out grounds of national cemetery at Andersonville, 1865; worked through Franco-Prussian war, 1870; distributed relief in Strasburg, Belfort, Montpelier, Paris, 1871; secured adoption of Treaty ,of Geneva, 1882; president American Bed Cross Society, 1881–1904.
BERGH, HENRY. Born at New York City, 1823; secretary of legation at St. Petersburg, 1862–64; organized American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1866; founded Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1874; died at New York City, March 12, 1888.
BROOKS, PHILLIPS. Born at Boston, December 13, 1835; graduated at Harvard, 1855; graduated from Episcopal Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, 1859; rector cf Trinity Church, Boston, 1870–93; elected Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1891; died at Boston, January 23,. 1893.
MOODY, DWIGHT LYMAN. Born at Northfield, Massachusetts, February 5, 1837; started missionary work at Chicago, 1856; conducted revival meetings in Great Britain, 1873–75; and devoted the remainder of his life to this work; died at Northfield, December 22, 1899.