Peace Movements
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 County.”

  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.

This article is one of a series of Hopedale Community articles written by Dalton and published in the Milford Daily News in 1938. Click here to go to the rest of them.

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