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.