December 15, 2007
Antislavery in Hopedale
If you missed the holiday house tour, it's too late now, but you can click here to see the houses that were
Hopedale in December.
Thanks to a large number of supporters, (individuals, businesses, organizations, the town and the state),
the renovation of the Little Red Shop is nearly finished. We expect the windows to be installed in a week or
so and there is some more electrical work to be done, but Whipple Construction stayed right on schedule
and finished their work before the weather got too bad. The answer to the most frequently asked question
about the job is, yes, it will be red. We just need the weather to get warm enough to paint. If you'd like to
help, let me know. Little Red Shop Project Menu -
Some months ago, while going through the Bancroft Library scrapbooks of Milford Daily News articles
about Hopedale, I came across a series of stories written by Ernest Dalton in the late 1930s. Here's one on
antislavery in the Hopedale Community
Were Readily Supported
But Anti-Slavery Campaign
Received Greatest Attention
By Ernest R. Dalton
Because of the Non-Resistant and Practical Christian fundamentals of the Community, it goes without
saying that peace movements were readily supported.
Also in keeping with their feelings were such reforms as those concerned with the abolition of capital
punishment. But the thing which seems to have received the greatest attention was the antislavery
campaign. In August 1842, West Indian Emancipation was celebrated at Hopedale with prayer, hymns and
addresses. During the ensuing years, as previously, The Practical Christian carried announcements of
meetings of such organizations as the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and the Worcester County Anti-
Slavery Society. A slogan, common to many of these announcements says of the coming meeting, "Let it
be filled and ruled with the true spirit of liberty." In June 1844, Ballou and sixteen others from Hopedale
attended the New England Anti-Slavery Society Convention in Boston, hearing as the chief speakers,
William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.
That same year, on September 14th and 15th, Hopedale held a very successful anti-slavery meeting. The
Liberator announced it in the September 6 issue, and stated that Garrison and Edmund Quincy would be
among the speakers. An editorial note the following week mentioned it again, and stated, "We shall gladly
obey the summons." The meeting was attended by a large number of persons. Ballou, Garrison, Burleigh
and Quincy spoke. Somewhat over one hundred and fifty dollars was collected and turned over to the
Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society for its work. Of this meeting Garrison wrote:
"I cannot possibly find room this week for anything more that the resolutions which were discussed and
adopted on the thrilling occasion...It was probably the largest anti-slavery meeting ever held in Worcester
Every year after that, August 1st, the anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies by
the British in 1834, was celebrated. These meetings gained in popularity until in 1855 over 700 persons
were present. Among the speakers who appeared were: Charles Burleigh, Stephen S. Foster, Wendell
Phillips, Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley Foster, Anna Dickenson, Parker Pillsbury, Henry C. Wright, and two former
slaves, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.
Anti-slavery activities led to the establishment in Hopedale of a link in the Underground Railroad. Run-
away slaves often lived in the village for long periods of time. At one meeting, the members voted to allow a
certain Rosetta Hall reside there for an indefinite length of time. The community also published an "Anti-
Slavery Hymn Book," containing hymns written by Ballou, Abby Price, and other Practical Christians.
Ballou and his followers were strong advocates of temperance. No intoxicating liquors were found in the
village. The Practical Christian often carried announcements of temperance meetings. Accounts of rum-
selling deacons and ministers, and of the evils of drink, often appeared. Modern stories of heavy drinking
among lawmakers are not new in American folklore, for in 1850 there appeared the following item:
"The drunkenness of Members of Congress is beginning to attract attention rather closely. One of the
papers says several members of the Senate are drunkards. Who presumes to slander the Gods?"
Milford Daily News, July 22, 1938.
Links to the rest of Dalton's articles can be found at the bottom of the Hopedale Community Menu.
Frances R. (Belforti) Gatozzi, 97, December 5, 2007.
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