Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Who is striving to promote the elevation of the rising generation?" Amos Gerry Beman (1812-1874)

It has been presumed by many that few abolitionists were African American.  There is, however, a database, the University of Detroit Mercy Black Abolitionist Archive, which includes the speeches of at least 800 speeches.


The following are the words of Amos Gerry Beman from a speech given in Hartford, Connecticut and published in the Emancipator, an abolitionist newspaper on 1839-11-07.  He was a minister from New Haven.  You may listen to the audio file created to enhance the user experience here: Amos G. Beman.


“Who then is elevated? Upon what is the claim
founded? Upon wealth? Have we been as industrious
and prudent as we might? Will we be from
this time? Shall this be the commencement of a
new era in our lives?
“Is our elevation founded upon our intelligence?
Have we been diligent, and studious in the cultivation
of our mental powers? Have we improved the
golden moments as they have passed away?
“Are we morally elevated? Have we all submitted
to the claims of the gospel? Is there a power
in our faith which works by love, and purifies the
heart? Who is striving to become elevated? Who
is seeking the elevation of the people? Who are
the true friends of society? Who is striving to promote
the elevation of the rising generation? Can
they not be elevated? Can they not be “trained
up in the way they should go?” Are there
no motives to urge us to seek our elevation,
because we are deprived of some of our political
rights? Because we cannot rush to the stormy
conflict of the political arena, shall we basely [set]
still and do nothing? Can we offer no sacrifice, unless
we burn it with the “strange fire” of ambition?
“No motives to be industrious and prudent, that
we may have the means of personal comfort − that
we may be able to educate our children − that we
may be prepared for the day of adversity and distress
− that we may have a shelter from the rude
and cheerless storms which howl around and sweep
the desolate winter of life? If we desire personal
comfort and respectability, if we have in our bosoms
love for our families and children, there is a
strong motive to urge us to pursue the path of industry
and economy. No motive for intellectual
elevation! What scources of pleasure and happiness
are open to an intelligent mind amid the
works of creation and the sublime wonders of revelation!
No reasons for the cultivation of the mental
powers? Sentiment unworthy an immortal mind!
“Ascend then, another step, and view yourself as
a moral being. The soul seated upon the throne
of eternity, can say with a voice which encircles
endless ages: “I live for ever a spark of the Deity.”
Noble thought! solemn truth! Motives press upon
you as moral beings, broad as the universe, wide
as creation, high as heaven, deep as hell! What
motives surround you! See your children going
on with you to the retributions of eternity! See
the claims of society, the interests of the church!
“Go stand upon the Alleghany mountains and
throw your eyes over the cotton plantations and
rice fields of the South.
“Hear the groan of the father in bondage, how his
manly frame trembles, how his heart beats, the
large tear-drop stands in his dim eye, not because
he has toiled away his youth and manhood with no
reward but the cruel lash of the relentless task
master, not because he has no hope but in the silent
grave; but his humble cottage has been plundered,
robbed, not of silver and gold, but of his wife, the
humble friend of his heart, the companion of his labor.
His son has been seized and driven away
where he shall never gladden the eye of his father
more. His daughter − but no. I will not inquire
concerning her fate. Let imagination do her office,
but fail of the sad reality. While our destiny is
linked with theirs, have we no motives to urge us
forward in the path of wisdom and usefulness?
Can we do nothing in hastening forward the day
when the trump of Jubilee will be sounded in this
land? Will not the day soon come, when the
songs of the bond man redeemed will not be confined
to the West India Islands?” University of Detroit Mercy Black Abolitionist Archive.
 "There are four scrapbooks of pastor Amos G. Beman in the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection. Beman (1812-1874) was a prominent abolitionist, minister, and missionary, and a leader of the black temperance movement."  See Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal.


_________________________________________________
  • "Beman, Amos Gerry, 1812-1874 - The Black Abolitionist Archive :: University of Detroit Mercy Libraries/IDS." Re:Search :: UDM Libraries / Instructional Design Studio. University of Detroit Mercy Black Abolitionist Archive. Web. 15 Dec. 2010. <http://research.udmercy.edu/find/special_collections/digital/baa/item.php?record_id=1865&collectionCode=baa>.

  • Amos Gerry Beman-1812-1874, a Memoir on a Forgotten Leader
  • Robert A. Warner
  • The Journal of Negro History
    Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr., 1937), pp. 200-221
    (article consists of 22 pages)
  • Published by: Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.
  • Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2714429

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