Another long word, children; but as very likely your own
grandfather was an abolitionist himself in those days,
you will want to know what the word means.
We are now close upon the terrible war which was
brought about by this disagreement between the North
and the South, The Abolitionists—that is, the
people who believed in doing away with
slavery—had come to be quite large in number.
The North had all these years believed that slavery was
not right; and while they had done away with it in
their own States, they had not pushed very hard in the
matter against the South. But now the Abolitionists
had come. They not only believed that slavery
was wrong, but they were determined it should be
The Southerners hated and feared these Abolitionists.
"What if they should come here among our slaves and
teach them about liberty and freedom!" said they.
The first Abolitionist of the times was Benjamin
Lunday, one of the good old Pennsylvania Quakers. He
began talking up this matter with everybody he met,
till at last his name and his sayings began to be
talked about in the newspapers; other newspapers took
it up, and others, and others,—some praising the
good Quaker, others condemning him. But whether they
praised or condemned, they set people all over the
country to thinking, and many
 a one who had never given it a thought before, began
now to wonder in their own minds if the Quaker wasn't
right, after all.
Benjamin Lunday came to Boston at length; and there he
found William Lloyd Garrison, who was as full of the
desire to see the slaves free as he was himself.
And such talk and such excitement as these two men did
stir up in good old Boston! There had been nothing
like it since the old Revolutionary times. Garrison
went to work and published a newspaper called the
"Liberator," in which he set forth freely his opinions
on the slavery question. The whole country was set
boiling by this paper. His very life was in danger.
In one State, five thousand dollars were offered for
The people of Boston itself threatened to tar and
feather him if he did not hold his peace. "I am right,
and I will speak!" was his answer. At last he was
seized by a mob, and dragged about the streets by a
rope. I don't know what would have become of him had
not the mayor of the city come to his rescue. He was
put in jail that he might be safe from the mob.
Out in Illinois, another newspaper editor was doing the
same sort of work. He, too, was mobbed, his presses
destroyed, and he himself killed in the fray.
All this time the little party of men and women who
called themselves Abolitionists were growing stronger
 stronger. And now when the news of this murder reached
the ears of the Boston Abolitionists, a meeting was
called in the old "Cradle of Liberty."
And it was at this meeting that Wendell Phillips, the
silver-tongued orator, first came into notice. He was
young, and rich, and educated, belonging to the very
best families in Massachusetts, having everything in
his favor whereby to make for himself a high place in
the world. But all this he threw aside, and came and
joined the little band of despised Abolitionists,
joining with William Lloyd Garrison as a leader in the
cause of freedom for the negroes.
At the same time, our dear old Quaker poet, as he is
called now, joined the ranks. He was young then, and
was just beginning to come into notice among the people
of the land, He, too, had a life of ease and glory
before him if only he had not taken up the slavery
question; but when he began to plead for the poor negro
of the South through his beautiful verses, just as
Wendell Phillips was pleading for them from the
platform, then the people turned against him as they
had turned against Wendell Phillips; and for thirty
years this poet whom now we all love so much, and
regard with such tender reverence, was looked upon with
contempt, and was insulted and scoffed at by the
people. Dear, tender-hearted Whittier! Are not you
glad, children, that he has lived to see the day when
his countrymen do love him as he deserved? What do you
 suppose the people in those Abolition days would have
said if some one had told them that in less than thirty
years John G. Whittier's verses would be in all our
books, and better still, in all our hearts; and that
the children all over the country would be celebrating
this self-same Whittier's birthdays in their
school-rooms, reading and speaking and singing of the
"gentle Quaker poet?"
JOHN G. WHITTIER.