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Denouncing the Brotherhood of Thieves: Stephen Symonds Foster's Critique of the Anti-Abolitionist Clergy.

Stephen Symonds Foster's abolitionist colleagues were startled when he appeared before the 1844 New England Antislavery Convention holding in one hand an iron collar and in the other a set of manacles. Describing the performance, the Reverend Adin Ballou recounted that as Foster waved the two objects before his audience he cried out, "Behold here a specimen of the religion of this land, the handy work of the American church and clergy."(1) Foster's audience should perhaps not have been surprised by his actions in 1844, for dramatic gestures had been part of his antislavery repertoire since the late 1830s, when he established himself as one of abolitionism's most feisty and resolute proponents. Apparently contemptuous of the conventions of polite society, his notoriety grew principally from his practice of interrupting church services for the purpose of exposing the clergy's involvement in the evil of slavery, a situation he believed rendered them as morally culpable as those who owned slaves. Realizing, too, the power of the written word, Foster forcefully restated his charges in his 1843 publication The Brotherhood of Thieves, or A True Picture of the American Church and Clergy, which proved to be one of the most influential tracts issued by the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS).(2)

Among the diverse group of reformers who constituted the often-factious "anti-slavery family" in pre-Civil War America, Foster was a controversial figure but not an unadmired one.(3) Noting that the "instrument he uses is in time and tune with the music of the antislavery band," the abolitionist Liberator observed in 1843 that it "is neither his blame nor praise that the instrument is the trombone and not the flute." As Wendell Phillips, abolitionism's most famous orator, recalled, Foster's aggressive style was required during the 1840s to "shake New England and stun it into listening" to the abolitionist message.(4) Moreover, while Foster never occupied a leading position within the hierarchy of any antislavery organization, and notwithstanding some attempts to dismiss his antics as those of a crank, his coworkers acknowledged his contribution to abolitionism. Indeed, far from being on the "periphery" of the AASS, as historians Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease have contended, Foster was frequently at the center of its deliberations, helping to formulate its doctrines and defend them as appropriate responses to slavery.(5) Foster took part in almost every important debate within the AASS. He was among the first to endorse Garrison's doctrine of disunionism, and his vigorous advocacy of the idea helped reconcile the society to this controversial principle.(6) Foster's contributions to antislavery discussions were frequently praised for their sharpness and clarity. Abolitionist and author Thomas Wentworth Higginson, no easy critic, lauded Foster as an "unequalled intellectual gladiator on any platform." As a field lecturer for the AASS, Foster took the message of Garrisonian abolitionism well beyond his native New Hampshire, establishing for himself in the process a national profile. At his death in 1881, Foster was recalled as one of the "ablest and most powerful coadjutors of Garrison." He also won praise from opponents of slavery abroad. A British antislavery periodical suggested in 1855 that when "the history of the antislavery enterprise shall be written no man will be more nobly distinguished for the moral courage and devotedness of life and talents to the cause than Stephen S. Foster."(7)

Notwithstanding the respect accorded Foster by his antislavery peers, however, he long remained an enigmatic and frequently misunderstood figure in the history of American abolitionism. Many scholars perhaps took too literally the words of the nineteenth-century poet and abolitionist, James Russell Lowell, who characterized Foster as a "kind of maddened John the Baptist/To whom the harshest words come aptest." As one early biographer remarked, Foster "seems to have suffered from an overdeveloped logical sense and a complete lack of humor."(8) Often consigned by students of antebellum reformism to the radical fringe of the antislavery movement, or seen in the shadow of his more famous wife, Abby Kelley, whose contributions to the abolitionist and women's rights movements earned her accolades from proponents of both racial and gender reform, Foster has attracted surprisingly little scholarly attention.(9) For some scholars, too, Foster's marriage to Kelley--a union that publicly challenged many of the prevailing gender codes--was confirmation of his radicalism.(10)

Until recent decades, students of abolitionism tended to view Foster through the eyes of postbellum chroniclers of antislavery who portrayed him and his anti-clerical colleagues as exotic and peripheral figures. When they did not neglect Foster altogether, these writers pictured him as an isolated malcontent within the antislavery community. Foster's reputation suffered in part because his career reminded many postbellum Americans, who were inclined to credit the churches with playing a major part in the fight against slavery, of the antipathy that had existed between radical abolitionists and the mainstream clergy. Garrison's sons claimed that Foster was one of a group of fanatics whose excessive language and behavior distinguished them from their more astute and cautious father.(11) While significant differences did emerge between Foster and the leadership of the AASS, it is important to note that these had little if anything to do with Foster's stridently anti-clerical stance. Moreover, it was not until the late 1850s, when Foster attacked Garrison and other AASS leaders for moderating their criticism of antislavery Republican politicians, a development that he believed compromised the immediatist credentials of the AASS, that a serious rupture between Foster and the Boston clique occurred.(12)

Even during the 1960s, as historians mounted a generally sympathetic reappraisal of radical abolitionists, Foster was sometimes depicted as a tangential or even disreputable figure, who alienated other opponents of slavery as well as the non-abolitionist public. Indeed, although Foster--and, as we will demonstrate, a significant section of the reform community--regarded his radical approach to the notion of "coming out" from established religious institutions as a legitimate and valuable form of protest, it has seemed "garish" to some twentieth-century scholars.(13) Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease, describing Foster as a "radical extremist" whose "manner brought disapproval from moderate and radical alike," concluded that his "abrasiveness and inconsistencies so isolated him that he was rendered almost impotent as an antislavery leader."(14) Yet while Foster's critics continued to look askance at his brand of reformism, since the 1960s other, more sympathetic scholars have taken his actions and ideology seriously, acknowledging his role as a significant figure in abolitionism.(15)

An alternative view of Foster's contribution to abolitionism was presented in Parker Pillsbury's Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles. Pillsbury sought to show that his friend had won the admiration and respect of his coworkers, notwithstanding their doubts about the efficacy of his more combative techniques. Moreover, Pillsbury argued that Foster's distinctive approach to antislavery reform was often successful in drawing attention both to the plight of the slave and the iniquity of the anti-abolitionist clergy. Naturally, Pillsbury's narrative is colored by his profound admiration for his old colleague. It will be shown here, however, that much of what Pillsbury had to say about Foster represents a balanced and perceptive assessment of the effectiveness of his methods. Indeed, many of Pillsbury's assertions regarding Foster's reputation and the impact of his activities are corroborated by the testimony of other contemporaries.(16)

By examining afresh the theory and practice of Foster's reformism, and by focusing specifically on his efforts to purify America's religious institutions, this paper extends the historiographical reassessment of Foster and casts further light on the dynamics of radical abolitionism.(17) It is our contention that the forms of protest for which he became notorious were not only purposeful and effective in drawing attention to the abolitionist cause, but were representative of the radical approach to abolitionism. The AASS as a body was not beyond using Foster's free speech campaign to highlight what it saw as the failings of its opponents both within and outside the antislavery movement. Even those who were most skeptical about Foster's approach were just as likely to attribute the violent reaction that frequently met his protests to the intransigence of the anti-abolitionist clergy as they were to the excesses of Foster and those who emulated his combative techniques. Rather than isolating himself from his abolitionist peers, Foster's analysis of the established religious order reflected as well as informed the wider abolitionist critique of the nation's tainted religious, racial, and political orders.

Reviewing his career in 1858, Foster said he could not remember a time when he believed slavery anything other than an intrinsic evil. Born in Canterbury, New Hampshire, in 1809, Foster was raised as an orthodox member of the Congregational church. His hatred of the South's "peculiar institution" was inculcated in him by his father, Col. Asa Foster, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.(18) The elder Foster attempted to make his own denomination more responsive to the plight of African Americans by presenting antislavery resolutions to his superiors in Canterbury. Foster's opposition to slavery seems to have been intensified by those perfectionist beliefs prevalent within protestant churches from the 1820s, which held that individuals gave proof of their regenerated state by working incessantly to rescue others from sin. Foster believed that no group needed salvation more than the slaves, whose condition denied to them both the Bible and true marriage.(19)

Like many others who subsequently became antislavery activists, Foster spent much of his early manhood trying to find an occupation that would allow him to consecrate himself more fully to his faith. As a schoolteacher, Foster is said to have won a reputation for sustaining religious enthusiasm among his pupils. A turning point came in Foster's life at the age of twenty-two when he left his job as a carpenter and became a candidate for the Congregational ministry. "The only object I had in view in changing my pursuits at this advanced period of life was to render myself more useful to the world, by extending the principles of Christianity as taught and lived out by their great Author," recalled Foster. Foster seems to have been responding to the call of evangelical leaders for young men to join the ministry and take the gospel message to the rapidly expanding West. Devoting himself to his studies, Foster spent the next seven years of his life preparing to be a clergyman.(20)

The reputation that Foster subsequently acquired as the most aggressive opponent of the clergy belied his early attempts within the church to overcome its resistance to abolitionism. William Goodell, an antislavery activist and historian from New York, believed there were few examples of abolitionists becoming alienated from their churches who had not been subjected first to the unrighteous authority of the clergy. Goodell's comments apply to Foster. While attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and later Union Seminary in New York City, Foster sought unsuccessfully to have the slavery issue debated at student meetings. He provoked the ire of the church by establishing a young man's antislavery society and by inviting the notorious antislavery lecturer Angelina Grimke to address it after church authorities had condemned the appearance of women on public platforms. Eventually, in exasperation, the principal of Union Seminary offered to fund Foster's education if he would cease all antislavery proselytizing. Foster rejected that offer, regarding it as a crude attempt to bribe him into silence on a matter "so near his heart and conscience as three million of his fellow human beings." Unable to tolerate church authorities restricting what he believed was his God-given right of free discussion, Foster abandoned his studies for the ministry. In 1839 he became an agent of the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society (NHASS), an affiliate of the AASS and an organization well known for its radical approach to abolitionism. Foster's decision to become an itinerant antislavery lecturer represented both an intensification of his commitment to the slave and a repudiation of the mainstream clergy. It also marked the beginning of Foster's alienation from mainstream evangelicalism and his drift toward heterodoxy, a development that seems to have reached its maturity in the 1850s.(21)

The NHASS became a refuge for several radical antislavery activists whose passionate commitment to the slaves was mingled with a strong personal grievance against churches for their anti-abolition stance. Foster quickly developed a close working relationship with Nathaniel Rogers, the editor of the Herald of Freedom, whose strident opposition to Garrison's clerical opponents probably reinforced Foster's animosity towards the anti-abolitionist churches.(22)

During this period Foster was instrumental in bringing the talented Parker Pillsbury into the Garrisonian fold. Pillsbury was one of several New Hampshire ministers to whom Foster sent a circular asking whether they thought it was appropriate to belong to churches and benevolent societies that included slaveholders as members. Together with Rogers, Foster helped kindle in Pillsbury a zeal for the antislavery cause that led to him being removed from his pulpit. Pillsbury subsequently credited Foster with giving him his "first and best lessons in anti-slavery work." As field lecturers for the NHASS during the early to mid 1840s, Foster and Pillsbury proved to be equally vocal and uninhibited in their denunciations of the anti-abolitionist and proslavery clergy. The careers of the two men were to follow similar patterns. Though Foster was a less prolific writer than Pillsbury and appears to have relished direct confrontation with hostile clergymen and congregations more than he, both men extended their field of activity beyond New England, finding appreciative audiences among many anti-clerical abolitionists in upstate New York, Ohio, and Michigan. In addition, both Foster and Pillsbury featured prominently as speakers at the annual meetings of the Garrisonian societies and on these occasions they frequently offered their coworkers a penetrating analysis of abolitionist strategy and tactics. Foster also influenced Thomas P. Beach, who resigned from the ministry to campaign alongside him. Although Foster remained a member of the Congregational Church in Hanover after joining the NHASS, his active support for antislavery and other ultra reforms such as non-resistance imposed a strain on his relationship with the local church. While the church excommunicated him for his radicalism in 1841, Foster's Congregational upbringing continued to shape his approach to reform.(23)

Claiming that anti-abolitionist ministers had exercised unrighteous authority by suppressing antislavery testimony for the sake of defending the stability and unity of their churches, Foster attacked any clergyman unsympathetic to his particular brand of radical abolitionism. But Foster's hostility toward the evangelical clergy extended beyond his criticism of those who were unabashed supporters of slavery or advocates of the American Colonization Society (a group that aimed to "return" black Americans to Africa). He was also determined to make himself a thorn in the side of those orthodox clergymen within the antislavery movement who during the late 1830s had joined their anti-abolitionist colleagues in affirming the right of pastors to deny itinerant lecturers the right to address their congregations. By this action, Foster believed that Garrison's clerical opponents, who identified with the New Organization wing of the antislavery movement following the 1840 split within the AASS, had helped the enemies of emancipation to hamper the work of converting New Englanders to abolitionism. To overcome clerical prohibitions on antislavery activity, Foster felt compelled to adopt many of the combative techniques used by evangelical ministers to induce sinners to repent. Foster's "philosophy is that of the old school revivalists," said Adin Ballou in 1844, "Knock down and then explain! Shock, madden, overwhelm, stun sinners--make thorough work of them--then apply poultices and opiates."(24)

During the early 1840s, Foster's activism revealed clearly that he had taken the call literally of the AASS to lift up "everywhere the voice of remonstrance, or warning and rebuke" against slavery. Indeed, he was to extend that role in a manner not envisaged by the leadership of the AASS. Determined to overcome the obstacles placed in the way of antislavery agents by the clergy, Pillsbury challenged Foster to develop a better way of reaching the people of New England. As he contemplated a new season of campaigning in New Hampshire in late 1841, Pillsbury told Foster that "the granite rocks must echo us there in the coming months, and the hills reply as we sound through the state the doctrines of universal freedom to the whole brotherhood of man."(25)

The audacious strategy that Foster devised apparently exceeded Pillsbury's expectations. Proposing that antislavery agents enter churches and in defiance of hostile ministers bear testimony before congregations to the sinfulness of slavery, Foster first put his controversial idea into practice at the Concord North Congregational Church in September 1841. He was quickly removed from the church and subsequently charged with disturbing the peace. Fifteen months after the Concord incident, Foster boasted to Nathaniel Rogers that he had been ejected from places of worship on no less than twenty-four occasions and incarcerated four times.(26)

Foster did not confine himself to disrupting Sunday services. William Goodell saw him attempt to employ the new tactic before the Congregational Antislavery Evangelical Convention in May 1842. Goodell recounted how Foster entered the gathering, composed of members of the church that had only recently excommunicated him for defiance of clerical authority, and requested that he be allowed to address it. The clerics he stood before professed to be abolitionists, but continued to fellowship slaveholders; Foster intended to denounce them for what he considered to be hypocrisy. Goodell's account of the forced removal of Foster was much the same as any of the other seemingly innumerable reports of his expulsions from meetings during the 1840s. Insistent on holding the floor after he was refused permission to speak, Foster was eventually dragged away by the police. "Woe, woe, to the clergy," he cried, "and woe, woe, to the churches."(27)

Critics familiar with Foster denounced him as an "agent of destruction" and a "disorganizer and a leveler"--a view, as noted, that was long accepted by historians of abolitionism.(28) However, Foster's interruptions of religious meetings represented a justifiable response to the hostility of the clergy to abolitionism. In trying to account for the slow progress made by the abolition movement, scholars have traditionally pointed to the unseemly presentation of the antislavery argument by individuals such as Foster and Garrison, rather than the pervasive racism of American society, and the closely related fears of slave rebellion and miscegenation. Garrisonian abolitionists received a disproportionate amount of the blame for the antipathy that developed between abolitionists and the mainstream evangelical churches.(29)

In Foster's case the charge was particularly unfair: the relationship between abolitionists and the bulk of the clergy already had become highly acrimonious by the time he embarked upon his antislavery career. During the late 1830s abolitionists watched with dismay as ministers closed their pulpits to antislavery lecturers and endorsed the removal of colleagues sympathetic to antislavery while continuing to offer fellowship to slaveholders and their defenders. The Brotherhood of Thieves faithfully reflected the deep animosity that abolitionists developed for the clergy during this time.

Furthermore, many of the clergymen Foster confronted in the early 1840s already had adopted a defensive mood. Repeated challenges to their authority by religious radicals during the Finneyite revival of the late 1820s and early 1830s had made them less willing to tolerant dissent. Many pastors had grown tired of competing with itinerant evangelists and agents of benevolent societies for the attention and loyalty of their congregations. As Donald Scott has shown, attempts to stifle antislavery activity were part of a much broader attempt by religious leaders to define the boundaries of ministerial authority. Foster's protests, to them, served as yet another expression of lay assertiveness that such anti-abolitionist church leaders as Leonard Bacon and Lyman Beecher believed threatened the power and reputation of the settled ministry.(30)

Nonetheless, Foster and his coworkers did not sense the clergy's feeling of vulnerability. On the contrary, they believed that ministers exercised a pervasive influence within American society. Asserting that the clergy held in their hands the "key to the great prison house of Southern despotism," Foster argued that it was necessary to denounce them as the "apologists and supporters of the most atrocious system of oppression and wrong beneath which humanity ever groaned." While clergy continued to oppose black emancipation, and so long as they enjoyed the confidence of the people, they would be "an insurmountable obstacle" to black emancipation. All who remained in communion with them made themselves accomplices of the slave master. The only way this guilt could be avoided, Foster stated, was for men and women to "come out" of their churches because Christians were obliged to withdraw from any other sinful association.(31)

Hostile clergy not only possessed the power to refuse antislavery agents such as Foster admission to their churches, but they also used their considerable influence in the wider community to keep church members away from antislavery meetings. Foster believed, therefore, that the authority of ministers had to be challenged before their congregations. With a Jacksonian faith in the soundness of the ordinary individual, both Foster and Pillsbury appear to have assumed that if they could only neutralize the influence of anti-abolitionist ministers, many of their followers would openly identify with the antislavery cause.

By disturbing Sunday services, Foster not only sought to test the determination of individual clergymen to abide by anti-abolitionist rulings imposed by higher church bodies but also attempted to reassert the right of ordinary church members to testify against sin in ecclesiastical forums. By overturning this right, and by excluding antislavery lecturers from all pulpits, Foster accused the major evangelical churches of transforming themselves into an extension of the slave power. When Foster entered a church he felt himself to be challenging the authority of one who had become a tyrant in his own parish and a personification of the slavepower. While he was repeatedly condemned as "an incendiary" for interrupting religious meetings, Foster believed he reacted in an entirely legitimate manner against the usurpations of a proslavery clergy.(32) For Foster the right of free speech was an integral part of true Christian worship, a "gift of God to every member of the family of man."(33) Although he never took a close interest in ecclesiological questions, Foster did express admiration for those egalitarian forms of worship that he believed characterized primitive Congregationalism. As Pillsbury noted, Foster defended his disruption of church services by referring to apostolic injunctions concerning church practice. These gave "every one, having psalm doctrine, interpretation or revelation" the opportunity to be heard "each in his turn." Even Garrisonians from Massachusetts who had serious doubts about Foster's methods acknowledged that the New Hampshire radical and his associates had partly justified their actions by appealing to the egalitarian traditions of those denominations that had prohibited antislavery lecturers from addressing their members. "Whatever may be thought of the measures these excellent men have adopted ... it will doubtless appear to many minds in strict conformity with the Apostolic model, which the Congregationalists, the Baptists, and the Friends--the denominations that so evilly entreated them--claimed as especially their own." A yearning to reform antebellum churches by returning to the conditions of the primitive or Apostolic church was a prominent theme in the propaganda of many comeouters, and reflected a fascination with the Christian primordium that went well beyond antislavery circles.(34)

To justify his free speech campaign, Foster frequently cited the same Pauline writings on church order and government that such anti-clerical Liberty Party spokesmen as William Goodell and Gerrit Smith relied on to construct their vision of a radically egalitarian and anti-racist church.(35) There were some important points of similarity between Foster's campaign against the churches and that waged by other groups of religious radicals and reformers within the broader antislavery community. Goodell and other ecclesiastical reformers, who drew most of their support from Liberty Party activists in upstate New York, aimed at the restoration of what they understood to be the apostolic church as a solution to all the inequities of American society, not least slavery. Hence they were highly critical of the Garrisonians for calling on abolitionists to repudiate all forms of organized religion as contrary to genuine Christian belief. However, though they disagreed about how the stumbling block of a hostile ministry was ultimately to be overcome, Garrisonian and non-Garrisonian comeouters agreed that it was the indisputable religious duty of antislavery men and women to withdraw from churches that refused to endorse immediatism. Both groups were relentless in their attacks upon anti-abolitionist churches, which is hardly surprising given that much of the enmity both sets of comeouters felt for the clergy had its origin in the attempts made by evangelical leaders to suppress antislavery discussion. Furthermore, both Foster and the ecclesiastical reformers associated with the Liberty Party reflected a widespread dissatisfaction with traditional church structures and hierarchies, which many abolitionists and other Americans believed were fundamentally at odds both with democracy and primitive Christianity.(36)

Significantly, Goodell viewed Foster's protest activity as symptomatic of a more widespread discontent with the nation's churches. Although he was genuinely scandalized by Foster's practice of addressing congregations without their consent, Goodell refused to dismiss the Garrisonian as a crank. He gave Foster credit for reiterating in The Brotherhood of Thieves many of the charges he and other evangelical abolitionists had made against the anti-abolitionist ministry.(37) Visiting New England in 1842, Goodell discovered that Foster enjoyed considerable support, and that he spoke for many abolitionists frustrated by the hostility of the churches. Alongside a "half-formed sentiment of sympathy with Foster," Goodell uncovered a sense that "some battering-ram should ... beat down the prison-house in which New England Christianity is grinding." Goodell's informants praised Foster for his sincerity and said that they believed he was a "well-educated and resolute man" even though they occasionally found his views "wild and extravagant."(38) Goodell was not alone among non-Garrisonians in conceding the impact of Foster's protest activity. "The gifted Foster," wrote one correspondent to an anti-Garrisonian antislavery journal, "walks over the established rules of society with as much composure as he would eat his breakfast."(39)

Foster's ability to appeal to abolitionists outside the AASS is illustrated by the popularity that he and Abby Kelley attained among Liberty Party members in Ohio. It is possible that the Fosters' message appealed to the anti-clerical element within the Liberty Party. One observer at a Liberty convention in 1845 claimed that the Fosters had introduced many of the delegates to abolitionism. Their lectures, "rough as they may be, have evidently been productive of good," he remarked. The Fosters' speeches had led many "to examine a subject which they previously knew but little about." So warm did the relationship between the Fosters and the Ohio branch of the Party become that some antislavery activists looked to Foster and his wife to try to help arrange a rapprochement between the AASS and non-Garrisonians, a move swiftly rejected by leaders on both sides of the abolitionist divide.(40)

The reputation that Foster acquired as the most militant of Garrisonian comeouters tends to obscure his own divided feelings about organized religion.(41) His movement away from Congregationalism was neither swift nor uninterrupted. Indeed his ambivalent feelings about the church seemed to be expressed in his numerous uninvited appearances before congregations. While Foster regularly denounced abolitionists for remaining members of denominations tainted by slavery, he also frequently appealed to what he understood as the egalitarian traditions of his own and other churches to justify his protests. Foster did not always present himself as a consistent Garrisonian comeouter. Lewis Perry has noted that the antislavery radical"seems not to have been concerned with the ecstasy of secession from the churches, nor does he seem to have experimented with liberated forms of religious practice."(42) Foster sometimes gave the impression that he sought readmission to the church that had repudiated him. Such action left some observers wondering whether Foster aimed at the destruction or the purification of the churches. Writing in 1847, Goodell noted that Foster still claimed to be a member of the Congregational Church. "Mr. Foster," wrote Goodell, "continues to remain in `the brotherhood', and claims a right to membership with them, that his testimony may be heard."(43)

Foster's own statements did little to clear up confusion. Unlike his close colleagues Henry C. Wright and Thomas P. Beach, Foster never voluntarily left his church but was excommunicated by his congregation at Hanover, New Hampshire, for his commitment to abolition and other ultra reforms. Foster refused to recognize the legitimacy of his excommunication, denying that it had occurred "in accordance with the covenant and established usage of the church." He sometimes responded to those who challenged his right to speak in Congregational church meetings by claiming he had never willingly ceased to be a member of the denomination. After his eviction from an antislavery meeting convened by Congregational ministers, Foster protested that while he did not regularly conduct fellowship in the church because of its proslavery position, he still claimed "rights of membership in that church, and had never failed, when in the place, to attend and participate in its meetings, as a member." The account of Foster's career presented in Pillsbury's memoirs suggests that he retained more than a residual affection for the Congregational ethos. Neither "Paul or Jesus," Pillsbury wrote, "had a more devout disciple than Foster; nor the Congregational church a more holy, conscientious and consistent member."(44)

From the beginning of his campaign, Foster clearly appreciated that he would expose himself to reprisals from anti-abolitionist mobs. Foster's willingness to risk assaults and arrest was in fact calculated to highlight the violence and corruption growing out of slavery and racism, and to illustrate the extent of the churches' complicity in the oppression of black people. Given the unrelenting hostility that radical abolitionists had encountered since the early 1830s, Foster clearly believed he would lose little and perhaps gain a great deal by aggressively asserting his right to address congregations about slavery. Pillsbury suggested that he and Foster were willing to be objects of mob hostility in order to win publicity for their cause. "It was our custom when we saw that a mob was inevitable," he recalled, "to try to turn it to good account, by making what we did say, as effective and as likely to be remembered as possible."(45)

While Foster was not the only abolitionist alert to the potential propaganda advantages to be derived from mob violence, he took greater risks than most of his contemporaries. Foster believed that such confrontations dramatized the link between slavery and abolition's most aggressive opponents. "The Church, Slavery, and the mob are a queer trinity!" Foster declared. Foster accused ministers of deliberately using mobs to suppress their abolitionist critics. He believed that the willingness of the clergy to rely on drunken men and youths to defend their honor exposed as fallacious their claims to serve as guardians of the social order in antebellum America. It proved to Foster that the clergy would resort to brute force to attain self-interested ends. In early 1847 Foster described one mob he encountered in Portland, Maine, as the "snarling watch-dogs of the spiritual aristocracy of the city, on whose behalf they were committing the most shameful outrages."(46) According to Foster, hostile clergy betrayed the pacific principles of Christ and revealed a bad conscience by ruthlessly suppressing abolitionists rather than meeting them in open debate. "Conscious innocence seldom consents to tarnish its character by a dishonorable defense," Foster observed.(47)

To inflame his opponents, Foster frequently made statements that contained the gravest possible charges against the church and ministry. While his description of the clergy as a "brotherhood of thieves" usually provoked a heated response, his assertion that the Methodist Episcopal Church was more "corrupt and profligate" than a New York brothel provided the catalyst for more than one riot. In 1843 an anti-abolitionist mob on Nantucket reacted to Foster's denigration of Methodism with such fury that he was forced to leave the island. At the same time, however, disappointed Nantucket supporters lamented that Foster's hostile audience had not given him the chance to substantiate his accusations against the churches. "Many of us have never felt satisfied that your former visit was not protracted, so as to enable you to give, more fully, the reasons for your scathing denunciation of the church," wrote the Massachusetts abolitionist and state legislator George Bradburn.(48) The request of Bradburn and others motivated Foster to write The Brotherhood of Thieves.

Foster also welcomed prosecution by civil authorities. While the time he spent in prison reinforced his passionate identification with Southern blacks, he also understood that court appearances and imprisonment provided him with additional publicity. Even before he began his abolitionist career, Foster had been jailed for refusing to undertake military service. According to Pillsbury, a letter Foster sent to newspapers complaining about conditions in the prison to which he was sent helped advance the cause of prison reform in New Hampshire. Joel Bernard has speculated that the incident made Foster acutely sensitive to abuse of authority.(49) However, the more significant lesson Foster derived from the affair was that arrest and imprisonment could be highly effective in drawing attention to injustice. Foster's conviction that persecution provided an effective advertisement for antislavery and other unpopular causes was reflected in the advice he gave to a gathering of anti-Sabbatarians, who believed that the traditional Sabbath was another example of how prevailing ecclesiasticism perverted genuine Christianity. Foster urged his colleagues to defy laws that enforced Sabbath observance rather than campaign for their repeal. "These penal enactments are sometimes of very great service to our cause," Foster observed, "and these cases are when the attempt is made to enforce them."(50)

Foster's belligerent tactics sometimes offered him an additional forum from which to reach an audience. Once he had disrupted a Sunday service, Foster usually drew a large and curious audience whenever authorities charged him with disturbing the public peace and took him before a magistrate. His court appearances provided him with a further opportunity to present his antislavery message. From the dock, Foster addressed the public without fear of being mobbed. So compelling was Foster's justification of his entry into the Concord North church in September 1841, that local residents, who professed no allegiance to the abolitionist cause, paid his fines.(51)

Taking advantage of his right to cross-examine witnesses, Foster often deflected attention from his own behavior by making statements about the enormity of slavery and interrogating his accusers about their understanding of clerical authority and free discussion. During another court appearance in the town of Nashua, Foster explained to Nathaniel Rogers that he made no attempt to defend his entry into the church of Rev. Dura D. Platt. Claiming that he cared nothing for the opinion of the magistrate, Foster reported: "I asked the witnesses some questions, and said a few words, but they were designed to influence the audience present, rather than the decision of" the magistrate. "My only object," Foster continued, "was to expose the wickedness and hypocrisy of Dura D. Platt and the majority of his church, that they might no longer ensnare the ignorant and unwary."(52)

The response by civil authorities convinced Foster that they took his protests seriously and helped him rebut allegations that he was insane. He was, after all, treated as a criminal and not as a lunatic. An opportunity for Foster to vindicate his own conduct came in 1844 when he helped colleagues remove the disruptive Abby Folsom from a meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Reformers in Boston widely agreed that Folsom was deranged. Convinced that the contrasting manner in which he and Folsom were treated testified to the effectiveness of his methods, Foster observed that while he and Folsom were commonly dismissed as mad, only Folsom was ever admitted to an asylum. "They denounce me as mad and a lunatic," said Foster of his adversaries, "yet treat me as a sane criminal, a willful felon. They drag me out, injuriously prosecute me, and incarcerate me in the cells of their public prisons."(53)

That the rewards of these early labors were incommensurate with the dangers faced seems indisputable. But while Pillsbury noted that the hostility he and Foster encountered was sometimes "beyond human patience and endurance," he also stressed that his friend's techniques "proved so effective as a means of awakening the public's attention to the importance of the anti-slavery enterprise that others were led to adopt it." Pillsbury recorded how in 1842 Foster and Thomas Beach-who accompanied Foster in his church campaign--successfully appealed to a group of young Quakers to disregard the opposition of their elders in granting them a hearing. The incident was far from an isolated one: that Pillsbury and Foster as field agents raised enough funds to pay off the debts of the NHASS, and to purchase press and type for its newspaper, the Herald of Freedom, indicates that their efforts produced some results.(54)

It is true that Foster's reputation as an "infidel" usually preceded him, and that he needed all his powers of persuasion to overcome the hostility of certain audiences. "Mr. Foster came here under the most unfavorable circumstances," the secretary of one antislavery society reported in 1855. "Nearly all our people had the impression that he was wild, fanatical and illogical." Foster dispelled their prejudices by delivering a compelling exposition of antislavery principles. "I think I never saw a man more calm, collected, and self-poised, never heard a man speak with more candor and solemnity, and exhibit a greater depth of feeling," continued the correspondent to the Liberator. Foster left the meeting with the prayers of even orthodox members of the church. This evidence of Foster appealing to audiences that included non-abolitionists contradicts claims that he repelled his listeners.(55)

Such explanations carried some weight with Foster's colleagues, for while few joined him in his church intrusions many lent him moral support when he was in trouble. Though they often questioned the wisdom of Foster's provocative methods, the Boston leadership of the AASS regularly stood by him in repelling attacks by opponents within and outside the antislavery community. Opinion was divided within the AASS about the merits of Foster's methods and such leading Garrisonians as Edmund Quincy, David Lee and Lydia Maria Child severely criticized the New Hampshire radicals. However, the reservations expressed by these more conservative Garrisonians were offset by the support Foster and his associates enjoyed among many grassroots abolitionists. When Beach was arrested in 1842 many Garrisonians in New Hampshire and Massachusetts rallied to condemn the churches that closed their doors to him and Foster.(56) Whatever private doubts that Garrison entertained about Foster's methods he never failed to deplore the "heathenish mobs" that accosted him.(57) As Stephen Cox has shown, the wisdom of Foster's course incited much debate within the Boston leadership, but a breach between him and them did not occur. Edmund Quincy assured readers of the Liberator that his reservations regarding the tactics of Foster and Beach should not be construed as a condemnation of the pair, who he knew to be "the most disinterested and uncompromising friends of the slave."(58)

When Foster brought his techniques to Boston in 1842, his colleagues expressed their solidarity with him. Pillsbury recalled that Garrison and Phillips gave consistent public support to the young agitator. Foster's reception at the New England Antislavery Convention the day after his removal from the Congregationalists' antislavery Evangelical Convention gave Goodell further cause to reassess his initial impression of him. In the presence of such abolitionist luminaries as Garrison and Phillips, Foster was "hailed as a martyr in the cause of freedom, and especially of free discussion." According to one report, Foster arrived at the meeting "amid deafening applause," before entertaining the audience "with a humorous account of his prosecution the day before." Foster's expulsion provided the AASS with an opportunity to reprimand its New Organization opponents. The Garrisonians passed a resolution in which they asserted that the removal of "our brother S. S. Foster" from the evangelical convention exemplified the "bigoted sectarianism, and deep-rooted hostility to free discussion and equality of fellowship, which has marked the clerical abolitionism of our country."(59)

The Boston clique clearly had even fewer doubts about the propriety of Foster's actions when he was arrested in Boston later in 1842 for upbraiding a constable who had arrested the black fugitive, George Latimer. Reporting Foster's incarceration, the Liberator assured his "numerous and faithful friends" that they need be "under no apprehensions for his safety in these emergencies, to which his fidelity to our cause subject him." Such was Foster's mild demeanor, observed the Liberator, that he was certain to win the sympathy of his captors. A meeting in Marlboro Hall, held to denounce the capture of Latimer, resolved that Foster was arrested for no other reason than his "bold and faithful remonstrance with his kidnappers," an action that was "in obedience to the commands of duty."(60)

Foster's reputation also reflected the disillusionment felt by many abolitionists toward antislavery politicians who compromised principle for electoral success. In 1847, at a Liberty Party convention in Boston, he attempted to condemn sections of that organization for supporting the Mexican War, a conflict many abolitionists considered was being waged to defend and extend the boundaries of Southern slavery. In their discussion of Foster, Jane and William Pease omitted to mention that his expulsion from the Liberty Party's meeting came in the face of opposition from a substantial minority of delegates. Foster capitalized on the event by pointing out that his expulsion was unprovoked--that he had not transgressed the rules of parliamentary debate.(61) Stung by widespread criticisms of their actions, Liberty Party leaders denounced Foster and accurately predicted that disunionists (who believed that the only means of abolishing slavery was by dissolving the Federal union) would come to his defense. Deploring the "cowardly assault" made upon Foster and "the right of free discussion," Garrison published supportive letters from Foster's co-workers in the Liberator.(62) As this affair revealed, Foster could choose his targets carefully and then turn the response of his enemies to his advantage.

In The Brotherhood of Thieves, Foster attempted to validate his more startling claims about the Methodist Episcopal Church. It has been assumed that this publication, in which Foster condemned the churches as "man-stealing, woman-whipping, adulterous and murderous" institutions, preserves examples of extreme language peculiar to its author and the obsessively anticlerical group of abolitionists in New Hampshire to which he belonged. They and Foster have often been compared, if only implicitly, to Garrison and the more conservative leadership of the AASS in Boston.(63) In truth, however, Foster often reiterated accusations against the clergy that Garrison and other antislavery leaders had made previously. Six years before Foster's most controversial denunciation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Garrison had denounced that denomination as a "cage of unclean birds and the Synagogue of Satan" after it repudiated abolitionism.(64)

By disclaiming "any right, wish or intention, to interfere in the civil and political relation between master and slave," Foster argued that Methodists had proven themselves content to leave slave women in a situation in which they were certain to be forced into a state of concubinage. Foster, of course, was hardly alone among abolitionists in expressing a pronounced concern about the sexual rapacity of the slave master. The antislavery cleric George Bourne asserted that in the South "all domestic relations" gave way to the "impulse of the lascivious desires and pecuniary demands." Garrison shared these concerns, berating the Methodists for turning a blind eye to "a system of prostitution and adultery."(65)

Moreover, the clergy provided no means for black women to protect their chastity. In Foster's eyes, the Methodists had compounded their guilt by resolving in 1840 to deprive their black members of the right to testify before church tribunals in states where they were prohibited from giving evidence in civil law. Even anti-Garrisonian, New Organization abolitionists conceded that the Methodists' decision was a "monstrous transaction ... perhaps not exceeded in wickedness by any religious body in modern times." For his part, Foster wondered whether "no other banditti on earth have gone so far, not in hypocrisy, at least, if they have had in Satanic barbarity."(66) Northern clergymen had supported the suppression of slave testimony to prevent Southerners from withdrawing from the church. This provided yet another example to Foster of a concern for denominational aggrandizement overriding moral scruple.

Much of Foster's anger went toward the Southern minister responsible for this measure. "The Reverend mover of the resolution can now violate the chastity of the colored members of his congregation with entire impunity," asserted Foster. Such provocative statements drew attention to the hypocrisy of an organization that prided itself as the guardian of public morals. Southern society placed few obstacles in the way of the slave master's passions, believed Foster and other abolitionists, and the church had helped to conceal his wickedness, which led to further brutality against black women. "The state has declared her body to be the property of her white brother; and the church has now decided that it will entertain none of her complaints," he wrote. Her master could now escape even the mildest censure.(67)

Foster's charges against the churches were especially severe, but his colleagues believed that he had accurately assessed the strength of the clergy's determination to resist the antislavery message. Like many observers, the Rev. Adin Ballou was sometimes startled by the apparently indiscriminate nature of Foster's attacks on the churches. But while Ballou believed that Foster would find it difficult to justify his assertion that the Methodist Episcopal Church was as decadent and extravagant as a brothel, he did feel that the activist had "the body of truth on his side, in his controversy with this generation." Time would provide the correct perspective on the controversy between Foster and the clergy, said Ballou, and reveal that neither he was "a bedlamite, nor they altogether a brotherhood of thieves."(68)

Nothing suggests, moreover, that the vehemence of Foster's attacks on churches repulsed Garrison or that he softened his own rhetoric in response to his colleague's alleged excesses. When Foster's comparison of the Methodist Church to a brothel sparked a riot at an antislavery convention in Syracuse in 1842, Garrison defended the strident language. Despite the furor Foster's accusation caused, Garrison noted that in a subsequent session of the convention his colleague "obtained a very respectful hearing in defense of his terrible charge against the Methodist Church, and produced an impression decidedly in his favor." Admonished himself in 1843 for his "very severe and very harsh language," Garrison denounced ministers in terms identical to Foster, branding them servants of the devil in a church of "man stealers, of thieves and robbers, of murderers and adulterers."(69) Frederick Douglass was no less vehement in his denunciations of the churches. Although Dorothy Sterling has pointed out that Douglass defended an 1841 motion of Foster's that characterized the churches as "brothels and banditti," she also has suggested that the black abolitionist's decision to leave the Garrisonians in 1847 came in part because he judged Foster and Pillsbury as "`infidels' who did not accept the Bible." Yet while Douglass might have developed reservations about Poster's views over time, as late as 1848 he still described the clergy as a "brotherhood of thieves" for tolerating the sale of African American children.(70)

The enthusiastic endorsement given to Foster's tract indicates that he used a language of denunciation common to radical abolitionists. The Liberator praised The Brotherhood of Thieves for being "so little tinctured with individual theory, and so full of appeals to the common feeling and common sense of mankind."(71) That this was written by Maria Weston Chapman, normally Foster's harshest critic within the AASS, gives further evidence that the tract represented views common among radical abolitionists. There is no hint that her approval came "grudgingly," as has been claimed.(72) "It is just what New England wants, groaning as she is through all her proslavery institutions ... that it may have the widest possible circulation will be the wish of every lover of freedom," she averred. That hope was realized, as Foster's pamphlet ran to twenty editions and was among the most popular ever published by the AASS.(73)

In 1850, when the Unitarian minister Henry Channing named Foster and Garrison as individuals whose stridency retarded the antislavery movement, their colleagues defended them by resolving that "the criminality of the abolitionists consists, not in the severity, but the justness of their language."(74) The gesture reflected the esteem in which many Garrisonians held Foster. That Connecticut abolitionists disturbed by his methods would not have him address them in 1841 does not prove he was perceived as a liability by his coadjutors.(75) Their refusal was an exception, and Foster and Abby Kelley found receptive audiences throughout New England, and beyond.

The Rhode Island abolitionist Phoebe Jackson found Foster's disruption of church services objectionable; nevertheless, she found him a "deeply impressive orator," who had "great power."(76) In 1851, when Oliver Johnson sought to revitalize abolitionism in New York, he could think of none better than Foster to help him. "His thunderings and lightnings were never more needed than here now," wrote Johnson. "I believe that there is no man living who could do the work here that he could." Two years later, the African American community of Detroit defended the Fosters after elements of that city's press had dismissed them as irredeemable fanatics. The language used by the Fosters, said Detroit's black citizens, "are well calculated to bring the guilty to a sense of their guilt."(77)

For more than two decades preceding the Civil War, Stephen Foster pursued a distinct agenda within the antebellum family of reformers. Foster's ultimate aim was to make abolitionists of all Americans, but he realized that moral suasion alone would never change the values and practices of a nation in which slavery and racism were firmly entrenched in the religious and political cultures. Convinced that civil and religious leaders had betrayed the nation, he was no less certain that his denunciations of the clergy and churches were necessary affronts to a citizenry that remained disturbingly apathetic to the appalling sin of slavery. Accordingly, while Foster's strident language and penchant for dramatic gesture antagonized many religious and civic leaders, his philosophy and actions were carefully calculated to bring maximum publicity to the antislavery cause. Moreover, although he relished his reputation as an iconoclast, Foster's religious values accorded more closely with those of his abolitionist contemporaries than has often been assumed, and he remained a valued member amongst opponents of the South's peculiar institution. Foster's conduct and passionate language did alienate some of his antislavery colleagues, but the ongoing respect accorded him from across the reform community suggested that many Americans--beyond as well as within that reform community-shared his skepticism regarding the moral and religious health of the nation.

(1.) Liberator, June 21, 1844.

(2.) Foster, The Brotherhood of Thieves, or a True Picture of the American Church and Clergy (New London, Conn.: W. Bolles, 1843).

(3.) For criticisms of Foster from his coadjutors, see William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, Bound with Them in Chains: A Biographical History of the Antislavery Movement (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1972), 200.

(4.) Liberator, Aug. 25, 1843; Phillips cited in William A. Robinson, "Stephen S. Foster," in Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959), 3:558-59.

(5.) Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 200.

(6.) Liberator, Feb. 15, 1844; William Goodell, Slavery and Anti-slavery: A History of the Great Struggle in Both Hemispheres (New York: William Goodell, 1853), 527-33; Henry Wilson, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1872), 568-75.

(7.) Liberator, Mar. 21, 1851, Apr. 13, 1855; "Obituary of Stephen S. Foster," Worcester Spy, Sept. 9, 1881; London Antislavery Advocate, Nov. 1855, cited in Liberator, Nov. 26, 1855; Parker Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles (Concord, N.H.: Clague, Wegman, Schlict and Co., 1883), 272-73.

(8.) Lowell, "Letter from Boston," cited in Martin Duberman, James Russell Lowell (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), 114; Robinson, "Foster," 58.

(9.) Foster, of course, has not been entirely ignored by scholars of abolitionism. Studies dealing with Foster include Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 191-217; Joel Bernard, "Authority, Autonomy, and Radical Commitment: Stephen and Abby Kelley Foster," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 90 (1980): 347-86; Jane H. Pease, "Abby Kelley, "The Freshness of Fanaticism: Abby Kelley Foster, an Essay in Reform" (Ph.D. diss., University of Rochester, 1969); Stephen Lawrence Cox, "Power, Oppression, and Liberation: New Hampshire Abolitionism and the Radical Critique of Slavery" (Ph.D. diss., University of New Hampshire, 1980); Dorothy Sterling, Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelley and the Politics of Antislavery (New York: Norton, 1991).

(10.) Foster's marriage has been analyzed in Chris Dixon, Perfecting the Family: Antislavery Marriages in Nineteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997).

(11.) Wilson, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, 564-65; Carlos Martyn, Wendell Phillips: The Agitator (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1890), 263-65; Wendell Phillips Garrison and Francis Jackson Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison: The Story of His Life Told by His Children (New York: Century, 1885-89), 3:26-28.

(12.) The divisions within the AASS caused by the rise of the Republican party are discussed in Richard H. Sewell, Ballots for Freedom: Anti-slavery Politics in the United States, 1837-1860 (New York: Oxford, 1976), 339-42; 285-88; James Brewer Stewart, Wendell Phillips, Liberty's Hero (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986), 195-98, 209-69.

(13.) With reference to "coming out," James Brewer Stewart has argued that Foster "practiced the doctrine in garish forms of which most other Garrisonians disapproved during the 1840s." See Stewart, Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976), 114.

(14.) Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 200-201, 217. See also John L. Thomas, The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison, A Biography (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963). 321-24; Aileen S. Kraditor, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism: Garrison and His Critics on Strategy and Tactics, 1834-1850 (New York: Pantheon, 1969), 239, 262.

(15.) While Martin Duberman described Foster as a "neurotic," he was careful to explain that such a depiction--with its inevitably pejorative connotations--must be applied with due consideration to the historical and cultural context of the subject under review. One's "diagnostic accuracy," Duberman noted, "can be blurred if the life style under evaluation is sharply different from our own"--as Foster's surely was. In her 1991 biography of Abby Kelley, Dorothy Sterling entitled the chapter devoted to Foster "A New Hampshire Fanatic," but her portrayal of Foster--both in that chapter and throughout the biography generally--was a sympathetic one. Similarly, Lawrence J. Friedman eschewed a one-dimensional analysis of Foster, treating him instead as a serious and significant figure in the history of American abolitionism. See Duberman, "The Northern Response to Slavery," The Antislavery Vanguard: New Essays on the Abolitionists, ed. Martin Duberman, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965), 408; Sterling, Ahead of Her Time; Friedman, Gregarious Saints: Self and Community in American Abolitionism, 1830-1870 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982). See also Ronald G. Walters, The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism after 1830 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 46-47, 49.

(16.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 123-55.

(17.) By focusing on Foster's denunciation of the churches and the clergy, we do not discount the significance of his critique of American political values and institutions. But while that is a subject worthy of analysis, it is beyond the scope of this paper.

(18.) National Anti-Slavery Standard, June 26, 1858; Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 192.

(19.) Anne C. Loveland, "Evangelicalism and Immediate Emancipation in American Antislavery Thought," Journal of Southern History 32 (May 1966): 172-88; Walters, The Antislavery Appeal, 46; Donald M. Scott, "Abolition as a Sacred Vocation," Antislavery Reconsidered, New Perspectives on the Abolitionists, ed. Lewis Perry and Michael Fellman, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), 51-74.

(20.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 124, 127; Bernard, "Authority, Autonomy, and Radical Commitment," 5; Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 5.

(21.) Like many other abolitionists who became alienated from organized evangelicalism, Foster grew increasingly uncertain that the Bible provided an unequivocal condemnation of slavery. By the early 1850s, Foster seems to have joined Garrison in embracing a belief system that consisted of an amalgam of Christian and Enlightenment ethics. See Walters, Antislavery Appeal, 46; Liberator, Sept. 27, 1850.

(22.) Goodell, Slavery and Anti-slavery, 432, 459-61; Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 193; "Obituary of Foster," Worcester Spy, Sept. 9, 1881; Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 5.

(23.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 77, 85; Liberator, Mar. 26, 1852; Stacey M. Robertson, Parker Pillsbury: Radical Abolitionist, Male Feminist (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 12-13, 24-25, 75, 82; Cox, "Power, Oppression and Liberation," 206-7; Louis Filler, "Parker Pillsbury: An Anti-Slavery Apostle," New England Quarterly 19 (1946): 315-37.

(24.) Liberator, June 7, 1844; Scott, "Abolition as a Sacred Vocation," 72-73.

(25.) Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Adopted at the Formation of the Said Society, in Philadelphia, on the 4th day of December, 1833 (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, n.d); Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 289-90; Robertson, Parker Pillsbury, 24-25.

(26.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 131-32.

(27.) Liberator, Aug. 19, 1842.

(28.) Church Committee of Dartmouth College to Stephen S. Foster, Oct. 4, 1841, Abby Kelley Foster Papers, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

(29.) See Dwight Lowell Dumond, Antislavery: The Crusade for Freedom in America (1961; repr. New York: Norton, 1966), 283.

(30.) Donald M. Scott, From Office to Profession: The New England Ministry 1750-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978), 119. Lay assertiveness and the reaction of religious leaders are analyzed in Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University, 1989), 3-46; Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 30-75; Hugh Davis, Leonard Bacon: New England Reformer and Antislavery Moderate (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998), 65-91.

(31.) Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 29, 5, 9-11, 27; idem, Revolution the Only Remedy for Slavery (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1855), 15.

(32.) Sterling, A head of Her Time, 228-29.

(33.) Lewis Perry, Radical Abolitionism: Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973), 109; Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, 145-46.

(34.) "Eleventh Annual Report of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society," cited in Liberator, June 2, 1843; Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, 226, 145-46; Nathan Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, 167-70.

(35.) Non-Garrisonian comeouters are analyzed in John R. McKivigan, "The Antislavery `Comeouter' Sects: A Neglected Dimension of the Abolitionist Movement," Civil War History 26 (June 1980): 142-60; idem, The War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches, 1830-1865 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), 56-73, 93-110; Douglas M. Strong, Perfectionist Politics: Abolitionism and the Religious Tensions of American Democracy (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1999).

(36.) Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, 167-70; Strong, Perfectionist Politics, 12-43

(37.) Christian Investigator, May 1843; Goodell cited in National Antislavery Standard, May 6, 1847; Cox, "Power, Oppression and Liberation," 218-19.

(38.) Goodell in Friend of Man, cited in Liberator, Aug. 19,1842; Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 182.

(39.) Louis Filler, "Parker Pillsbury: An Anti-Slavery Apostle," New England Quarterly 19 (1946): 315-19; Emancipator, Aug. 17, 1842, cited in Cox, "Power, Oppression, and Liberation," 224.

(40.) Cleveland American cited in Liberator, Oct. 24, 1845; Liberator, Nov. 3, 1843; National Anti-Slavery Standard, Feb. 2, 1844; Liberty Press cited in Liberator, Dec. 8, 1843.

(41.) See Walters, The Antislavery Appeal, 47, Louis Filler, The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830-1860 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1960), 116.

(42.) Perry, Radical Abolitionism, 109.

(43.) Foster to William Lloyd Garrison, Jan. 1847, cited in the Liberator, Feb. 5, 1847; Goodell cited in National Antislavery Standard, May 6, 1847.

(44.) Foster to William Lloyd Garrison, Jan. 1847; Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 146.

(45.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 162

(46.) Liberator, Feb. 17, 1843.

(47.) Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 6-7.

(48.) Ibid., 8; George Bradburn to Foster, May 29, 1843, Kelley Foster Papers, American Antiquarian Society.

(49.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 124-25; Bernard, "Authority, Autonomy, and Radical Commitment," 353-54.

(50.) Liberator, June 30, 1848.

(51.) Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman, American Chivalry (Boston: W. B. Clarke, 1913), 83-84.

(52.) Foster cited in Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, 271.

(53.) Liberator, June 21, 1844. See also Sterling, Ahead of Her Time, 208-9, Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 194, Liberator, June 7, 1844.

(54.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 130, 195, 312-15.

(55.) Liberator, Aug. 31, 1855; Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 196-97.

(56.) Cox, "Power, Oppression, and Liberation," 214; Liberator, Nov. 25, 1842.

(57.) Garrison cited in Cox, "Power, Oppression, and Liberation," 219.

(58.) Cox, "Power, Oppression, and Liberation," 219-21; Liberator, Aug. 19, 1842.

(59.) Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 272; Liberator, Aug. 19, 1842; Essex County Washingtonian cited in Liberator, Aug. 12, 1842; Liberator, June 3, 1842.

(60.) Liberator, Nov. 25, 1842.

(61.) Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 193-94; Liberator, Feb. 4, 1847.

(62.) Cleveland American, n.d., cited in Liberator, Mar. 5, 1847; Liberator, Jan. 29, 1847.

(63.) Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 7; Kraditor, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism, 37; Pease and Pease, Bound with Them in Chains, 195-96, Bernard, "Authority, Autonomy, and Radical Commitment," 355.

(64.) Liberator, Aug. 13, 1836.

(65.) "Resolution of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church," cited in Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 35; Bourne cited in Arthur Young Lloyd, The Slavery Controversy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), 87; Liberator, Aug. 13,1836. On the sexual abuses associated with slavery, see Dixon, Perfecting the Family, chapter 1; Ronald G. Walters, "The Erotic South: Civilization and Sexuality in American Abolitionism," American Quarterly 25 (May 1973): 177-201.

(66.) Philanthropist, n.d., cited in Henry H. Simms, Emotion at High Tide: Abolition as a Controversial Factor, 1830-1845 (Richmond, Va.: William Byrd Press, 1960), 204-5; Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 28-29.

(67.) Foster, Brotherhood of Thieves, 28-29; Donald G. Mathews, "The Abolitionists on Slavery: The Critique Behind the Social Movement," Journal of Southern History 33 (May 1967): 166-68.

(68.) Practical Christian, n.d., cited in Liberator, June 7, 1844.

(69.) Thomas, The Liberator: William Lloyd Garrison, a Biography, 323-24; William Lloyd Garrison to Helen Garrison, Nov. 27, 1842, The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, ed. Walter H. Merrill (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1973), 3:111-15; Liberator, Dec. 30, 1842; Lowell Journal cited in Liberator, Apr. 21, 1843.

(70). Sterling, Ahead of Her Time, 142-43, 274; Douglass's speech to the AASS, May 10, 1848, The Frederick Douglass Papers, ser. 1, vol. 2, ed. John W. Blassingame (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 128-29.

(71.) Liberator, Aug. 25, 1843.

(72.) Sterling, Ahead of Her Time, 207-8.

(73.) Liberator, Aug. 25, 1843; Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-slavery Apostles, 127-30.

(74.) Liberator, June 14, 1850.

(75.) Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 3:29.

(76.) Jackson cited in Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 3:29.

(77.) Johnson to Abby Kelley, Feb. 6, 1851, Kelley Foster Papers, American Antiquarian Society; Liberator, Nov. 18, 1853.

CHRIS DIXON has published Perfecting the Family: Antislavery Marriages in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), and African America and Haiti: Emigration and Black Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century (2000). He has taught at the University of Sydney, Massey University (New Zealand), and is a senior lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle (Australia).

TROY DUNCAN has completed a B.A. with Honors at the University of Newcastle (Australia) and is currently finishing a Ph.D. on the antislavery activist and historian William Goodell. The winner of an Australian Postgraduate Award, and a University Medalist, Troy has also been employed as a tutor in the History Department at the University of Newcastle.
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