Slavery - Kentucky - Abolitionist

Slavery - Kentucky - Abolitionist



Curtis, Rev. H (arvey). Cincinnati – March 17th, 1841 Autograph Letter Signed to Mr. Ira Button. Brandon, Vermont. 4 pgs. 9 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches.  Manuscript in ink, previously folded with address and postmark on page 4. A few minor tears at folds, otherwise a very legible letter in very good condition.

A very informative letter, written by the Rev. Harvey Curtis to his friend from his home town in Vermont.  Rev. Curtis had a few months earlier moved from Vermont to Cincinnati and explains that he has spent most of his time learning about the City and the border states on the Ohio River.  After he and his wife fought off “a slight bilious attack” he was preparing for two months travel up the Mississippi to Iowa and Wisconsin and the territories around Illinois.  He had recently delivered a sermon and raised some money for the American Home Missionary Society, of which he was a member. The society was formed in 1826 with the mission of financially assisting congregations on the American frontier until they could become self-sufficient.  Much of the early funding of the Society came from the South and so it took  incremental steps in its position on slavery until 1857 when it officially renounce it and became part of the abolitionist’s movement.

Letter in full:

Dear Br. Through the kindness of our Heavenly Father I am quite as well as I could have expected. I have spoken very little in public Since I came here Not being able to engage in my appropriate duties immediately, I requested of the Executive Com. that my compensation whatever it should be (I know not yet what it will be, as nothing has been said about it, & I cannot yet judge what it will cost me to live here, or how much I can labor) might not commence till the first of March. This has left me at liberty to be a little lazy writing some for the missionary Cause, getting acquainted with ministers personally & by correspondence studying my field of labor – its geography – the peculiarities of the people – the reason & Past missionary doings of this region &c. &c. & writing & talking temperance a little. Last Sat I preached my first Misss’y Service & took up a subscription & collection of $156.57 in the house. Yesterday I went up to Lane Sem’y and addressed the theological Students on the subject of Fam Missions. I shall not attempt to preach more than once a week this Spring & see how that affects me. In about 3 or 4 weeks I expect to start on a two or three months tour down the Ohio & up the Mississippi so as to make as extensive an acquaintance as I can in Iowa & Wisconsin Territories & Illinois & get the ministers & churches interested in this great work. What the lord has for me to do Here I know not whether to preach a little & by & by become a pastor again onto find a grave here time will disclose. My health has been generally very good except a slight bilious attack, occasioned by explosure to the night air walking out evenings as I have been accustomed to in Vermont. I was laid on my back about five or six days by it & Mrs. Curtis is just now experiencing a Similar attack. I am told for my comfort that all new comers here to undergo such a seasoning in getting acclimated especially if they come from the north. I think often & with much interest of Brandon & the dear friends I left there. May God bless the Church the Brethren & Sisters & their families especially the children of the church with his rich grace. I wish very much to hear that you have obtained one to go in & out before you & break unto you the bread of life in whom the people are united. I received a very kind & excellent letter from Esq. Davenport a few weeks ago which was like cold water to a thirsty soul express to him my thanks for it & remember me affectionately to all my friends. Frequently Mrs. C. rouses me from a state of worry into which I fall & asks me what I am thinking about. “Brandon” is the common reply. I am much concerned about & dea. June. Mr. Hotcombs fall I expected for the time of Mr. Seely’s visit. It could hardly have been otherwise with a man but newly converted who had such associates as he has been acting with & who had a large measure of self confidence. But Dea. June I did think was too old a Christian to rend the body of Christ for the sake of a more abstract declaratory resolution. I have now been living two months within sight, just across the river, of a slave state. The more I learn of slavery the more I loathe it, as a state of Society hateful to God, & injurious to man, master as well as slave. But I see nothing to change my sentiments or feelings in relation to Northern actions on this subject. Christians as the North have something to do. They should whenever they can be conversation & correspondence & by the action of public ladies so speak as to quicken the consciences of southern Christians. But this must be done in the meekness of wisdom & in the tenderness of brotherly kindness. More votes that a thing is sinful will not enlighten any one’s conscience. They Should be shown & convinced that it is wrong but the manner in which they have been addressed & spoke of at the north has completely closed their minds against conviction from the North. The first thing necessary in order to get a slave holder to talk calmly with you is to say “I’m not an abolitionist.” Then not till then will many of them reason with you. There is an extreme jealousy of every man & every thing coming from the free states. One new Tenn. Paper started here cannot circulate to any considerable extant across the river for this reason. Men in Kentucky who are talking against slavery themselves, & devising as they think the best means to lead to its entire removal say “No, we cannot take your Tenn. Paper. We do not know but you will get “abolition” into it.” And openly in their newspapers they oppose its circulation on the ground. Said a very intelligent man to me yesterday “Every body here knows that the curse is on Kentucky whether abolitionist or not. Were it not for Slavery Louisville as the rapids of the Ohio, below here would have been a head of Cincinnati and the people there know it. They talk against Slavery among themselves, but they are exceeding mad against abolitionists & will not listen to them a moment.” I hope God will bring good out of all this said & cause even the wrath of man to praise him. But I do think it were better to speak the truth in love & commend ourselves to the conscious of all men. No man was even yet converted by making him an object of reproach & continually. A good minister here who has been an Anti-Slavery lecturer said years ago & who has been one of the Executive Committee of the State Society told me a few days since that he had thought for some time of with drawing from the Soc. or at least resigning his office. There was so much in the Spirit and opinions of the Soc. Repugnant to his feelings as a Christian Minister. He thought too he could be more useful disassociated from such a connection. Mr. Davenport said he lent my letter to him, to be read by others. I wish you would be careful how you lend this for if Mrs. Holcomb Should get hold of it it would doubtless go into the telegraph as it is fashionable to publish private letters now a days & I am too far away to be able to ___ any thing which might be said unjust to me or injurious to the cause in which I am enlisted.

If you think necessary to finish the bridge I commenced on the flat or to lay up the wall back of the House – as to run a little wall just enough to hold up the sand back of Mr. Harts garden, do it & charge the same to me. Please do manage the place just as you would if it were your own. So as to preserve it from injury & to dispose of it as soon as well as you can. I shall probably visit Brandon a year from next summer or fall. Yours affectionately – H. Curtis

I intended to have written to Bowman Campbell before this time about Lane Seminary. If he thinks of laboring in this western country he would do well to come here to study. I will try to write him soo. H.C.

4 pgs. 9 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches.  Manuscript in ink, previously folded with address and postmark on page 4. A few minor tears at folds, otherwise a very legible letter in very good condition.



$ 495.00
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