Abolitionists in Milford, Hopedale and Mendon

     Our good friend, David Stearns Godfrey, called and informed us of the triumphant success of Frederick
    Douglass last evening at his lecture in Milford Academy Hall. Great excitement; the "baser sort" active;
    people turned out numerously; but they were wonderfully overcome by his ingenuity and eloquence. The
    tide (which was turbulent against him at first) turned strongly in his favor. He lectured again this evening at
    Milford town-hall. Eleven from Hopedale to hear him. A glorious lecture to a full house. Adin Ballou,
    History of the Hopedale Community, p. 48. The event referred to in this paragraph took place in 1842

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     An interesting incident illustrative of the times and of the attitude of the community towards a wronged
    and outcast race, is brought to notice in a vote passed the 28th of June, "to allow Rosetta Hall to reside at
    the Community house for an indefinite length of time and work for her board, education, etc." Rosetta was
    a protégé of Frederick Douglass, the two having known each other as slaves some years before she
    appeared in our midst. On escaping from the house of bondage she appealed to him for aid in her forlorn
    condition. He kindly responded to her appeal and in due time brought her to Hopedale, where she would
    be among friends who would see that no harm came to her, and do all they could to educate her and help
    her in other possible ways. She was made welcome by our people, and treated with all due consideration
    and kindness while she remained within our borders. She proved herself a girl of most amiable
    disposition, of engaging manners, and of refined nature generally, winning the respect, confidence, and
    love, as she won the compassionate pity of all who knew her. Her stay with us was comparatively brief
    and she left with the best wishes of all our people for her future welfare and happiness. Adin Ballou,
    History of the Hopedale Community, pp. 142 - 143. The event mentioned in this paragraph took place in
    1845.

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     A meeting was called on Sunday, April 27th, at 5 o'clock P. M., at the Methodist Chapel, Milford, to talk of
    Slavery, and to ask for aid for a family of four persons, (father, mother, son and daughter, from southern
    bondage,) to bear their expenses to Canada, that they might find protection on the shores of a Monarchy
    from the blood-bound cruelties of our Republican institutions. A large meeting promptly assembled,
    among whom were the several ministers of the place, and the congregation had the appearance of being
    deeply interested in the object for which they were called together. These stripped, and bruised, and
    wounded brethren were then presented to sympathy and consideration, in a brief and simple statement of
    some of the woes they had endured in slavery, and their noble struggle to escape. Practical Christian,
    May 4, 1851   Click here to read the complete article.                                                        

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     Mendon, May 4, 1851

     A meeting was held in Harrison Hall, on Monday, at 5 P.M., for the same purpose. [The same purpose as
    in the article above.] Addressed by several speakers from Hopedale, and very eloquently by a new
    minister just hired there, who evinced a spirit up to the present crisis.  A collection of nine dollars and
    thirty-six cents was taken, and a box of clothing pledged, which was forwarded: and they are now started,
    well fitted out on their path of exile, banished from all early associations, to a dreary land already crowded
    with sufferers.  We found the least possible cost of their journey, would be nine dollars each.  So that they
    would have but little left to aid them after their arrival.  Yet they will know that they are free, and safe from
    Republican Oppressors. Abby Hills Price, Practical Christian

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     It was our custom at Hopedale, as radical Abolitionists, to celebrate from year to year the Anniversary of
    Emancipation of 800,000 slaves in the British West Indies; an event which took place by a decree of the
    English Government on the 1st of August, 1834.  This was done on the year in review in a pleasant grove
    near the southerly border of our domain, half a mile from the central part of our village.  It was estimated
    that an audience of about eight hundred persons was in regular attendance upon the exercises and that
    not less than a thousand visited the grounds during the day.  Besides speakers of our own, and those
    well-known champions of Liberty, Henry C. Wright and Charles C. Burleigh, there was also with us a
    remarkable colored woman, once a slave in the State of New York, Sojourner Truth, whose impassioned
    utterances on the occasion were like the fiery outbursts of some ancient prophet of God "lifting up his
    voice like a trumpet and showing the people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins." Adin
    Ballou,  Practical Christian, 1854   (Also printed in The History of the Hopedale Community, pp. 266 -
    267.)                                                                                              
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     The weightier matters discussed were advocated in the "Practical Christian," the newspaper published
    by the Community, but I was too young to appreciate the ideas that were being advanced, that were
    afterwards the occasion of national dissention and civil war.  I was more interested when a man arose on
    the platform and showed branded in the palm of his uplifted hand the letters S.S.  He had labored among
    the slaves to aid them to escape from slavery and as a punishment was burned S.S. for Slave Stealer.  
    He afterwards married Dr. Emily Gay's sister and lived in Hopedale.  Many escaped slaves lived in the
    families of Hopedale.  My father had a colored man called John who did some work about the place, but
    never went alone from the house.  At night he was there, in the morning gone.  I was too young to be
    entrusted with important secrets.  In the opposite house a man, woman, and two children, all black, dwelt
    one winter in the cellar kitchen and one summer in the attic.  The oldest girl went to school and learned to
    read and write.  Another neighbor had as a guest Lizzie Hall, a handsome mulatto young woman with a
    history somewhat like Eliza of Uncle Tom's Cabin, though Lizzie Hall was her master's daughter.  She
    stayed till after her little child was born, the she too, had gone away.  Several others there were who lived
    among us for weeks or months.  They were fed, clothed, and sheltered. We knew them and saw them
    moving in and out, one day here, the next, gone.  Sometimes we heard they had reached Worcester,
    Boston, New York, or the Mecca of their wanderings, Canada. Anna Thwing Field, Hopedale
    Reminiscences

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     In early 1863, the Hopedale sewing circle began to make articles of clothing for the freed slaves around
    Port Royal, and in October 1864 some of the residents organized the Hopedale Freedmen's Relief
    Society with Ebenezer Draper as president. Early in 1865 the society sent Sarah P. Lillie, a daughter of
    one of the original members of the Community, to South Carolina as a teacher for the freedmen, and in
    1866 it raised nearly five hundred dollars to support another Hopedale teacher, Ellen M. Patrick, the
    daughter of Delano Patrick, to help educate black people in the Charleston area. Edward Spann,
    Hopedale: Commune to Company Town, p. 154.


Frederick Douglass

    The above was found on the Library of Congress website. It's interesting to note that
    Hopedale, a village and not an incorporated town in 1844, was mentioned as the
    source of the petition. It's also worth noting that petitioning a legislature was not
    allowed according to the Community Declaration. I suppose the signers had decided
    that their opposition to slavery was more important than adhering to the Declaration.