Wendell P. Dabney      

Guide to African American Resources
at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives

   

 

Introduction

Subject Categories

Index

  

Cincinnati History
Library and Archives

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Ohio Anti-slavery Society
 
  Founded in 1835 in Zanesville as an auxiliary to the American Anti-slavery Society, their purpose as stated in their constitution was, “abolition of slavery throughout the United States and the elevation of our colored brethren to their proper rank as men.” Their first convention was held in Putnam in 1835. There were delegates from 25 Ohio counties plus 4 corresponding members from other states. The corresponding members were James G. Birney and James A. Thome of Kentucky, William T. Allan of Alabama, and Ebenezer Martin of New York. Hamilton County delegates included Theodore D. Weld and Horace Bushnell. Rev. John Rankin was one of the delegates from Brown County. At this convention an Executive Committee was approved to manage the affairs of the society. Initially members of the committee were to reside in Muskingum County but at their first anniversary meeting in 1836, Cincinnati became the place of residence of the Executive Committee. Members of the Executive Committee in 1836 were Gamaliel Bailey, James G. Birney, Isaac Colby, C. Donaldson, James C. Ludlow, Thomas Maylin, John Melendy, and Rees E. Price.  
 
Their means to accomplish their goal, in addition to sending lecturers throughout the state, was to employ the press. At their first meeting in Putnam, they saw a need to print a newspaper. James G. Birney was planning on commencing such a project and presented his prospectus for the newspaper, The Philanthropist. The convention approved his plan and prospectus. The first issue of The Philanthropist was published on Jan. 1, 1836 at New Richmond, Ohio by James G. Birney. On January 22nd, a group of Cincinnatians met to oppose the publication of the newspaper. Birney, who himself resided in Cincinnati, saw this as a challenge, moved the printing of the paper to Cincinnati in April of 1836. The April 15, 1836 issue was the first published in Cincinnati.
 
 
At their first anniversary meeting in Granville in 1836, with the consent of Birney, the paper was put under the control of the Executive Committee. A notice in the May 13th issue indicates that the publishing of the newspaper had been transferred to Executive Committee of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society. While initially there was no opposition, on July 12th the office of Achilles Pugh, the printer of the paper, was attacked. Fearing more violence, a committee of Cincinnati citizens requested the Executive Committee to cease publication of the newspaper. The Executive Committee refused citing “freedom of the press.” On July 30th, the printing office was again attacked and the press destroyed. Peace was restored to the city after several safety committees were organized. The Philanthropist was able to publish a newspaper on August 5th as somehow the mob had missed the layout of that as they were ransacking the office. However, it was not until October of 1836 that another issue was published. The attack on the printing office actually help spread the abolitionists’ message as the mob did not destroy the publications they found in the office but scattered them in the street where others retrieved and read them. Subscriptions to the paper increased.
 
 
 
The Philanthropist, October 21, 1836
The Philanthropist, October 21, 1836
Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

 
 
The Society, however, hit another difficult period in 1840. In that year the American Anti-slavery Society split into two factions. The leadership of the American Anti-slavery Society was under William Lloyd Garrison who called for the northern non-slave holding states to secede and create a nation where slavery was prohibited. Most members of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society were opposed to Garrison’s radical views and therefore the Society severed its ties with the American Anti-slavery Society.
 
 
In 1842, when members of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society met at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, there was a proposal to become an auxiliary of the American Anti-slavery Society again. The leadership of the Society maneuvered to not even bring it to a vote. As a consequence, several members broke and formed a new society, the Ohio American Anti-slavery Society. Also, at that meeting the Society agreed to transfer publication of The Philanthropist to William Birney, son of James G. Birney. While the editorial department was still run by Gamaliel Bailey, an abolitionist, the paper included more agricultural and commercial news to attract a broader audience as subscriptions were now the sole support of the paper. The last issue of The Philanthropist published by the Executive Committee was June 29, 1842.
 
 


 
To learn more about Ohio Anti-slavery Society, consult the following resources:
 

Address to the Churches Delivered at the 1st Anniversary of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society
By John Rankin
R.B. Pamphlets 326 R211, 1836
Rankin challenges the notion that there is a validation of slavery that can be found in Scripture.
Request slip
 
 
 
Debate on Modern Abolitionism in the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held in Cincinnati, May 1836

By the Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference
R.B. Pamphlets 326 M592d
The pamphlet is an account of the conference including an address given by a member of the conference.
View catalog record   Request slip
 
 
 
Declaration of Sentiments and Constitution of the Ohio State Anti-slavery Society
By the Ohio Anti-slavery Society
R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37ds
Pamphlet explains the purpose and structure of the organization.
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Narrative of the Late Riotous Proceedings against the Liberty of the Press in Cincinnati : Addressed to the People of Ohio
By the Executive Committee of the Ohio anti-slavery Society
Thomson no. 519
Describes the attack on the press of The Philanthropist.
View catalog record   Request slip
 
 
 
Memorial of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society to the General Assembly of the State of Ohio
R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37m
Members of the society request the legislature to repeal laws that discriminate on the basis of race. It contains a description of the African American population in a number of Ohio counties.
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Proceedings of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention. Held at Putnam, on the Twenty-second, Twenty-third, and Twenty-fourth of April 1835
By the Ohio Anti-slavery Society
R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37, 1835
View catalog record   Request slip
 
 
 
Report of the Second Anniversary of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society Held in Mount Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio, on the Twenty-seventh of April, 1837
By the Ohio Anti-slavery Society
R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37r, 1837
View catalog record   Request slip
 
 
 
Report of the Third Anniversary of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society : Held in Granville, Licking County, Ohio, on the 30th of May 1838
By the Ohio Anti-slavery Society
R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37re
View catalog record   Request slip
 
 
 
Ohio Anti-slavery Society Letters, 1836
Mss VF 4237
Two letters, dated June 1, 1836 and July 4, 1836, to the trustees of the First Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. The first letter requests a chance to speak to the congregation, and the second letter denounces them for refusing.
Request slip
 
 
 
The Philanthropist
General 071.771 fC5ph
Request slip
 
 


Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
  • Rankin, John. Address to the Churches Delivered at the 1st Anniversary of the Ohio Anti-slavery Society, R.B. Pamphlets 326 R211, 1836, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Ohio Anti-slavery Society. Declaration of Sentiments and Constitution of the Ohio State Anti-slavery Society, R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37ds, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Ohio Anti-slavery Society. Proceedings of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention. Held at Putnam, on the twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth of April 1835, R.B. Pamphlets 326 O37, 1835, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Executive Committee of the Ohio anti-slavery SocietyNarrative of the Late Riotous Proceedings against the Liberty of the press in Cincinnati, Thomson no. 519, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • The Philanthropist, General 071.771 fC5ph, Jan.1, Apr. 15, May 13, Aug. 5, Oct. 7 1836; June 29, July 9, 1842, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
 
 

 


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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.