Samuel B. Wells, Anti-Slavery Days


Pleasant Words from an Old Vermonter.

Mr. Editor:

In a recent letter from Hon. A. N. Swain of Bellows Falls, he said: "Being at Brattleboro a few days since, I saw an old poster on which was your name, Oscar L. Shafter, and C. C. Frost, for a liberty anti-slavery meeting. It was in 1845, and the first I ever knew you were one of the old Anti-slavery guard."

Yes, I was an Abolitionist, and when it required more courage to be such than it does now to be a Republican in Virginia. Then, it was two against one; here it is Democrat against Republican, and the freedmen either at the front or in reserve.

With this difference---now the "stars and stripes" wave triumphant in God's free air over Richmond, and any one who should dare molest or dishonor them would be branded a traitor; but then, the first in the history of the grand old flag in our country, especially in the Green Mountain state, a liberty pole from which the top of which floated the stars and stripes, hand-made by the noble anti-slavery women, was cut down and its flag trampled in the dust.

Had Benjamin F. Butler, the illustrious hero of New Orleans, been there "Mumford" might not have been the first to pay his life for dishonoring the emblem of freedom. Yes, treason against the flag in the first state to join the original thirteen, long antedated the ordinance of secession!

However, we suppose the sacrilege was the result of boiled down hatred against the abolitionist who desired that the old flag should no longer be a burlesque; which now, be it said to the honor of the Republic, truly and substantially represents the liberty of all, at a cost of a million lives, untold suffering, and comparatively an unimportant item, gold.

Oscar L. Shafter was an anti-slavery man in brain and heart, inspired by the unmistakable forces of nature's intuitions---a peer of Gerrit Smith and Phillips, and of whom it can be said, Vermont had no greater intellect, none to excel this manly man.

The humble, unostentatious shoemaker of Brattleboro, C. C. Frost, who had no equal in Windham county if in the state, in scientific attainments, especially as a mineralogist and botanist, was a master workman in the temple of liberty. In 1845, at an anti-slavery meeting in Athens, Mr. Frost took an active part. But very few in Windham county knew the bed-rock ability of Charles C. Frost.

Like a Burritt at his anvil, with a book at hand, so was Mr. Frost at his work---two of the most remarkable self-made men of New England. A lecture was once delivered to the young men in Boston by a noted speaker who was acquainted with the life and character of Mr. Frost, the subject being, "C. C. Frost of Brattleboro, Vermont, or the self-made man."

Then the issue was, shall the country continue one-half free and one-half slave, or shall property in man have a constitutional protection in the interest of lust and gold? Now the issue is of less, but practical importance---shall labor and its products in the interest of all, have a tariff-home right protection?

Issues are evolved from ever-changing conditions, and soon in the progress of human events, a living, vital issue will loom up in the moral and political horizon---shall property in rum and its detructive uses receive a legal sanction and protection in the base interest of gold, lechery, prisons and the gallows? It can be said of the great moral and political interests of man, as Father Jasper does of "the greater light to rule the day," "the sun do move."

Permit us to say that we are one of many devoted friends of Mr. Swain who deeply regret that he had laid aside the editorial mantle. A man good and true, one of the people and for the people, socially without favoritism, morally without a stain, and in the business relations of life without dishonor.

The life of a conscientious editor is useful as it is laborious, and "his works follow him." He had not the benefit of our eight hour law, but rather, his day of honor, of solid brain work, begins and ends in night. Of all men to be appreciated it is the vigilant, trusted editor. Without him the world would be a Babel; ignorance would go forth at noonday and man would wander in the murky shadows of a painful uncertainty.

He is like the trusty engineer on land or sea; like the sea bell that sits swan-like on the angry waves along the stormy coast, directing to a harbor of safety and of rest. Of the faithful editor it can appropriately be said, as did St. Paul of charity, with a variation, "He suffereth long, and is kind; he envieth not, vaunteth not himself, is not puffed up; does not behave himself unseemly; seeketh not his own, is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

S. B. Wells.

Richmond, Va., Jan. 1, 1889.

Vermont Phoenix, January 25, 1889.







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