The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

ECS to the Editor, National Anti-Slavery Standard

The Union is saved! The danger of secession is passed, if you can only let Carolina know as speedily as possible that our Northern Buffaloes have come forth in their might, trampled the right of free speech in the dust, and cut the jugular vein of abolitionism, by mobbing one slender gray haired man, and two "strong-minded" women.[1] These wild bovines, in defiance of law and order, tramped into the hall of St. James[2] and worried the three helpless "fanatics" with their hideous bellowings through two entire days. The Mayor[3] came to the rescue and looked the herd bravely and steadily in the face, made a noble, manly speech, and ordered his police (some fifty or sixty in number, admitted free, for the express purpose of preserving order) to do their duty, and drive these inhuman interlopers back to their burrows. But what could he do more than utter brave words? His police, being Democrats, would not obey the orders of the newly elected Republican Mayor; so far from it, they actually joined the mob themselves, encouraged by respectable men from the Democratic and Bell-Everett[4] ranks, among them the distinguished juniors of Millard Fillmore and Horatio Seymour.[5] The speakers, through much tribulation, said their say, and at 10 o'clock the meeting adjourned. Whereupon the bovines took possession of the Hall on a lease of ten dollars an hour, and with great efforts raised three dollars and forty-five cents. They then proceeded to organize, and with difficulty found a man willing to assume such grave responsibilities.[6] Mr. Talcott,[7] a member of the bar, rose and asked the Chair to state the objects of the meeting, but they were too momentous for utterance and fairly stuck in his throat. Whilst he was in the process of deglutition, a Committee retired to draft resolutions. The Chairman, recovering, said, he "didn't exactly know the object of the meeting," but he "s'posed it was for free discussion about anything that wouldn't make disturbance." Mr. Talcott replied, that he was "wholly incompetent to discuss that subject," and sat down.
The Business Committee then reported that they had no paper (they meant ideas) to draft resolutions, but proceeded to read some incoherent nonsense from the back of an old letter. Just then, not knowing for what they met, or how to do it, some rogue closed their drunken vagaries by turning off the gas. And thus ended an Anti-Slavery Convention in one of the the largest cities of the Empire State, on the Fast day of our pious President— the immortal "platform," James Buchanan[8]— in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-one.
Free Speech in South Carolina is tarred and feathered, exiled and hung. In Washington it is subject to bluster, threat, insult and ridicule. In Boston the very sprigs of fashion choke it down with perfume and soft resolutions in favor of what it suffers south of the line.[9] But in the "City of the West," within the sound of Niagara's roar, in the presence of such solemn majesty, rude Buffaloes are let loose to trample on the constitutional rights of freemen— to insult and ridicule the daughters of Pilgrim Fathers, standing in the forum to plead for justice and mercy for an outraged race.

E. C. S.

National Anti-Slavery Standard, 12 January 1861. Reprinted in Liberator, 18 January 1861. Unsigned variant in the New York Daily Tribune, 9 January 1861.
    [1.] Beriah Green, ECS, and SBA launched their "No Compromise with Slaveholders" tour in Buffalo 3-4 January 1861. For coverage see documents 116, 117, and Film, 9:978, 982.
    [2.] St. James Hall was located above businesses, on the corner of Washington and Eagle Streets.
    [3.] Franklin Alberger (1827-1877) was the first Republican elected mayor of Buffalo. (Holli and Jones, Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors.)
    [4.] John Bell (1797-1869), formerly a Whig senator from Tennessee was, in 1860, the presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party, formed by southern Whigs who wished to remain in the Union. Edward Everett (1794-1865), a former governor of Massachusetts, president of Harvard College, and United States senator, was his running mate. (Biographical Dictionary of the American Congress.)
    [5.] Millard Powers Fillmore (1828-1889), the only son of Democratic president Millard Fillmore, worked in his father's law office in Buffalo. Horatio Seymour, Jr., (1814-1872) was not the son of New York's former and future governor, but of Horatio Seymour, a Democratic senator from 1821 to 1833. Horatio, Jr. settled in Buffalo in 1836 where he worked as a lawyer. (Rayback, Millard Fillmore, 46-47, 160, 171, 254, 417n; Seymour, History of the Seymour Family, 246-47; White, Our County and Its People, 1:706.)
    [6.] Hiram E. Howard, cashier of the Marine Bank of Buffalo, took the chair. (Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, 5 January 1861; City directory, 1862.)
    [7.] John Ledyard Talcott (1812-1887) was a prominent Buffalo lawyer and later New York Supreme Court justice. (Talcott, Talcott Pedigree, 92; McAdam, Bench and Bar of New York, 1:495.)
    [8.] In an effort to deny Stephen Douglas the Democratic party nomination in 1860, Buchanan supported the "platform first" idea, hoping that if a platform antithetical to Douglas's views were adopted, he would be forced to abandon his candidacy. But the plan failed; Buchanan's platform was adopted, Douglas was nominated, and the Democratic party split apart. (Klein, James Buchanan, 340-43.)
    [9.] In the fall of 1860, southern vigilance committees patrolled plantations, intimidating slaves, free blacks, and whites. In Boston on 3 December, at an antislavery meeting commemorating John Brown's death, a mob led by wealthy lawyers and merchants, took over the meeting and passed resolutions calling for concession to the South "in the interests of commerce, manufactures, and agriculture." The abolitionists were forced to cancel their meeting and reconvened that evening at the Joy Street Baptist Church. (Craven, Growth of Southern Nationalism, 310; Douglass, Papers, 3:387-412.)