UTICA OBSERVER-EXTRA. Monday, Oct. 19, 1835. At a large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Utica...for the purpose of taking into consideration the resolution of the Common Council, passed last evening, granting permission for the holding of a State Abolition Convention in this place...[Caption title and partial text].
[Utica, NY]: 1835. Broadside, 31.5 x 22 cm. Signed in type by Rudolph Snyder, President of the convention, and nine others, at conclusion. Sheet stained and very browned, some surface abrasions. Skillfully backed. Not an especially attractive copy, but sound and textually complete. The meeting passed six resolutions, the first being that the action of the Common Council "is regarded by this meeting not only as a flagrant usurpation of power...but as a direct indignity to the good citizens of this place." Other resolutions thank Mayor Joseph Kirkland and the Council minority for their actions, urge fellow citizens to "use all lawful and proper measures to arrest the disgrace which would settle upon this city" as a result of such a Convention, determine to publish their resolutions in local newspapers, &c.
An abolitionist convention was held in Utica shortly thereafter, notwithstanding this public meeting. The convention and the events leading up to it captured national attention. The text of the present piece, along with numerous other documents, was printed in Niles Weekly Register on October 31, 1835. The significance of the convention is spelled out on the website of the Oneida County Freedom Trail: ...Certain citizens of Oneida County and particularly Utica played significant roles in promoting the abolition of slavery as an institution throughout the country. The American Colonization Society was organized for the purpose of purchasing the freedom of the slaves and returning them to Africa. The Rev. Beriah Green (1795-1874), the head of the Oneida Institute of Whitesboro, was an outspoken foe of slavery on moral grounds and was opposed to the colonization idea as the alternative to abolition. It is difficult today to appreciate the deep division and strong feelings which existed in Utica during those years between those who promoted the abolition of the institution of slavery and those who, although they personally despised the subjugation of slaves, feared that the abolitionists would destroy the Union. On the second floor of Green's school building in Whitesboro, was a printing office. In this printing office, was published, "The Friend of Man", a red hot abolitionist paper, which a majority of the citizens of Utica and the county considered a seditious and dangerous publication. In 1832 there moved to Utica Alvan Stewart, a lawyer, who became the president of the Utica Anti-Slavery Society. He issued a call for a State Convention to be held in Utica on October 21, 1835, for the purpose of forming a State antislavery society. It was proposed to hold the meeting in the courtroom on the second floor of the old Academy at Chancellor Square, but a large group of citizens held a meeting and declared that the hall of justice should not be desecrated by such a radical meeting. As a result, the Common Council rescinded its permission and arrangements were made to hold the convention at the Second Presbyterian Church (later the Bleecker Street Baptist Church) on the corner of Bleecker and Charlotte streets on October 21, 1835 at 10 a.m., and among those invited to attend was Gerrit Smith. Gerrit Smith, came to the convention merely as a spectator, but his experience here was to change him from a passive to a militant abolitionist, one of the greatest in the country. On the morning of the convention, a large group of citizens gathered at the Utica Academy, and under the chairmanship of Chester Hayden, appointed a committee to go before the convention, report the resolutions adopted by the group and respectfully urge that the convention adjourn and the delegates leave the city forthwith. The appearance of the committee was an incentive to whatever rowdy element was present in the church, as well as on the outside, to create a disturbance; there was much noise, some threats of violence, hymn books and other missiles were tossed about, and some personal attacks. Meanwhile an immense crowd gathered in the streets. While the committee was still in the church a sudden disturbance occurred on the borders of this crowd, and there was a swaying of the multitude toward Genesee Street. This was caused by a lot of roughs who broke through the crowd with the ladder of one of the hook and ladder companies. The ladder was raised against the church and two men sprang up it. Then someone started hurriedly into the church, crowding his way as best he could, and informed the assemblage of the impending danger. Charles A. Mann, then agent of Charles E. Dudley, of Albany, the owner of the building, came upon the porch of the church and asked the crowd to disperse, telling them that the building was private property. He begged them to respect it and protect it from violence. The men on the ladder then came down. The excitement was intense and it was remarkable that a destructive riot did not follow." Gerrit Smith was so moved by the actions of the mob, that he invited the delegates to assemble at his mansion at Peterboro and continue the proceedings. The Convention re-assembled at the Presbyterian Church in Peterboro and Gerrit Smith was selected as chairman. The mob did not go away completely empty-handed, however. They did succeed in sacking the offices of the Standard and Democrat, which had supported the convention, tossing its type into the street. Not found OCLC or other sources. Item #67643