Anti-abolition sentiment was often found north of Mason and Dixon’s line and evidenced by incidents like the 1837 shooting death of abolitionist Elija Lovejoy in Alton, Ohio. The local citizenry tried to convince Lovejoy of his unpopularity by throwing his presses into the Mississippi River three times before resorting to the fatal measure.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
Northern Resistance to Abolitionists
“One of the earliest newspapers of Niagara Falls [New York], The Niagara Falls Daily Recorder, had brief but somewhat volatile tenure becoming involved in the hot-button issue of slavery in the 1830’s. The story of early newspapers was related in a 1937 article by city historian Edward T. Williams, himself a longtime journalist and newspaper owner.
The Recorder issue of April 8, 1839, contained a two-column account of a public abolitionist meeting in the downtown union chapel, located near the “Eagle Tavern on the south side of Falls street.” The article, the editor pointed out, was published as an advertisement “paid for jackass and all.” The story had a picture of a jackass at the head.
The meeting was called by a Mr. Pickard, described as an itinerant abolitionist. It was agreed after he spoke one hour that members of the opposition would be allowed to reply. Apparently there was a lot of opposition to slavery abolition in the village, including the Recorder, which was owned by one W. Law.
Williams said the newspaper report “was evidently made up for those opposed to Mr. Pickard, and the abolitionist received little consideration, being called “used up.” The group then passed a couple resolutions against abolition. One said:
Resolved: that the doctrine of the present abolitionists is a far greater evil than slavery as it now exists.”
Another resolution said:
Resolved: that all further attempts to lecture upon the subject of slavery in this village deserves to be met with the most spirited opposition until abolition lecturers become like angel’s visits, few and far between.”
(History of Falls Newspapers Complex, Bob Kostoff, www.niagarafallsreporter.com, Jan. 18, 2011)