Washington (DC) National Era, “Collapse of Abolitionists,” October 22, 1857

    Source citation
    “Collapse of Abolitionists,” Washington (DC) National Era, October 22, 1857, p. 170: 7.
    Original source
    Richmond (VA) Examiner
    Newspaper: Publication
    Washington National Era
    Newspaper: Headline
    Collapse of Abolitionists
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    “COLLAPSE OF ABOLITIONISTS. –Abolition credit seems to be on the wane. Harper & Brothers, who were the originators and are reputed owners in part of the New York Times, have gone by the board. They claim to have a surplus of a million of assets over liabilities; but the fact remains to be verified.
    “J.P. Jewett & Co., of Boston, who got their first lift by publishing Aunt Harriet’s ‘Uncle Tom,’ and gave out that they had made an immense fortune from its sale, have failed for a large amount of money, and with vehement protestations that they, too, have a princely surplus.

    “The old business proprietor of the Tribune, McElrath, of the old firm Greeley & McElrath, has broken all to pieces, and his interest in the Tribune has to be sold in liquidation. This is an out-and-out failure, and there is no mention of the usual surplus.

    “Bowen & McNamee, of New York, the great dry goods jobbers, and dealers in abolition politics as a business, the proprietors of Ward Beecher’s newspaper, the Independent, men who sold their goods to Free State merchants only, and disdained to make accounts with Slave State merchants–these men have failed for a large amount, from inability to make Northern and Western collections. The surplus boasted in this instance, of assets over liabilities, is a million and a quarter.

    “Verily do electioneering for Fremont, shrieking for Kansas, purchasing Sharpe’s rifles, and aiding Kansas emigration, seem to be a breaking business. But the end is not yet.” – Richmond Examiner.

    The above is a fair specimen of a set of articles or paragraphs which have appeared of late in the Southern journals, and in such Pro-Slavery journals North as the Day Book and the New York Herald. The Herald devoted a whole column to the failure of three Anti-Slavery houses, and concluded that Anti-Slavery don’t pay in this country, because J. P. Jewett & Co. have suspended! We wonder if these journals hope to impose such stuff upon the people of this country for sense. When hundreds and thousands suspend, what stupidity to select one, two, or half a dozen firms from the thousand, and draw the inference that “Anti-Slavery don’t pay,” because the firms in question held Anti-Slavery opinions. We venture to affirm that, out of every ten suspended houses in New York, eight are Pro-Slavery in their opinions.

    If the failure of J. P. Jewett & Co. proves that Anti-Slavery book-publishing is not profitable, the failure of Harper & Brothers proves that neutrality on the Slavery question does not pay. The idea is a preposterous one, and probably not one of the journals which has circulated it, believed it for a moment. It afforded an opportunity for a silly outcry against an Anti-Slavery firm.

    It is enough to sicken an honest man with political warfare, to read a class of political journals. If a vagrant is convicted of stealing shoes from a tradesman’s counter, the politics of the culprit are sure to be published. If the scamp was ever heard to express an opinion against “involuntary servitude,” the violent Administration prints are out in large capitals with the details of the “Black Republican theft!”
    The moment that news came of the defalcation in the Ohio Treasury, even such journals as the Union characterized it as a “Black Republican defalcation!” when the truth was, and it cannot be denied among intelligent men of all parties, that a Democratic (so-called) Treasurer was guilty of the embezzlement, and a Republican Treasurer afterwards endeavored to screen the guilty party. The use of such weapons should disgrace any press, any party – and in a better state of civilization, it will.

    There is a peculiar meanness at this time in singling out individual failures, and drawing inferences therefrom. The panic, the intense distress which is everywhere prevalent among business men, is jeered at by those who employ such language. The New York Herald singles out these firms, and chuckles over their downfall. Why? Because they were Anti-Slavery in their opinions. If the Republican journals of New York were base enough, they might retaliate by laughing over the ruin of Pro-Slavery houses. They are not, and we humbly hope never will be, sunk so low as to be capable of such an act. Any English journal which were guilty of such conduct would lose caste at once, and we may be very sure that no journal here which has any reputation to lose will be guilty of it.

    “Comparisons are odious.” They are so at this time, when made between different sections of the country. A few weeks ago, when New York was in a state of incipient panic, a daily journal of this city saw fit to compare the business condition of Southern cities, and Washington especially, with that of New York. What was the result? Washington banks suspended weeks before those of New York!

    At this time, certain Pro-Slavery journals are busy in comparing the condition of the South and the North, and call attention to the contrast between the two sections. They forget two exceedingly important facts. First, that the panic has not reached the South; second, that Slavery does not develop all kinds of business, as Freedom does; hence, there are ten business men in the North to five in the South – ten manufacturers in the North to one in the South – and, of course, there is a very much larger class of men who can be affected by a panic North than South.

    There are no failures that we hear of amid the Rocky Mountains. There are none among the wandering Indian tribes! Who, therefore, will be silly enough to prefer the Rocky Mountains for a home or the social condition of the Indians?

    We should have paid no attention to this subject, had we not seen article upon article like the one above quoted in our Pro-Slavery exchanges. We believe that it is high time for honorable men of all parties to unite in condemnation of such a shameful prostitution of the press for sectional purposes. Excuses may be found for a Southern journal, but none for any Northern paper which descends to such conduct.

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