Editor's Note: The following report of the Eastern New York Anti-Slavery Society was found by HRMM research George A. Thompson and transcribed by Sarah Wassberg Johnson. The Eastern New York Anti-Slavery society was based in Albany, NY and founded by Reverend Abel Brown in 1842. Although less well-known than the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, which counted Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth among its members, the Eastern New York Anti-Slavery Society nevertheless did important work with the Underground Railroad. Resources for further reading on this subject are located at the bottom of this post.
EASTERN N.Y. A. S. SOC. & FUGITIVE SLAVES.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE. 
In a previous Report of the Committee engaged in aiding fugitive slaves, they endeavored to show the propriety and duty of progressing in this work of mercy and benevolence. Another year has passed, and in the light of its experience the Committee have found additional proofs of the importance of this object, and for still more active zeal in the prosecution of their labors. They have ever deemed it essential that a systemic plan of operations should be sustained for the permanent security and protection of those down trodden outcasts of humanity. Among the many reasons considered by them for engaging in this work of benevolent enterprise, the following presents themselves:
1st. The aiding away of fugitive slaves is producing a beneficial effect on the slaveholder.
There are in this nation from 200,000 to 300,000 men who are laboring under an alienation or infatuation of mind which leads them to persist in robbing their fellow men of their dearest rights. They are truly led captive by the devil, at his will, for they not only engage in deeds at which humanity shudders, and which God abhors, but are so perfectly and madly insane that they glory in saying and believing that they understand and correctly appreciate the true principles of our moral, religious and political institutions, that they only in all this generation worship God in spirit and in truth.
They steal, lie, blaspheme, rob, murder, commit whoredom -- yes, crimes of which it is even a shame [illegible line] have been stolen and now hold and rob the colored people in this nation. They hold their so called property as any other thief holds his stolen goods, and it is as much the duty of honest men to seize these human goods and restore them to their rightful owners whenever opportunity presents, as to aid in restoring any other stolen property. When a man thief loses the property he has stolen, it affects him in the same manner as thieves in general. A moment’s reflection will illustrate. Suppose a man steals $1000 in cash, and after a few months enjoyment of it, the rightful owner by some artful device gets possession of it - what would be the effect of the loss of the unlawful inheritance upon the mind of the thief? - Would he not be more apt to reflect upon the wickedness of the crime he had committed? Would he be as apt to steal again? And would not the effect upon the man who has stolen $1000 worth of human beings be similar? Certainly no one would for a moment suppose that it is less a criminal offence to steal men than money.
A member of the committee lately received a letter from a friend who resides in the family one of those unfortunate men who has lost his slaves. A slave by the name Robert was missing. There were frequent conversations in the family about Robert. The mistress frequently expressed her fears that the servant was suffering in the swamps, and perhaps dying of starvation. The children cried because Robert was gone, while the father swore he would thrash the rascal if he ever caught him. Weeks, and even months elapsed, but no news from Robert. The master had given him up for lost, not only to his owner but also to himself, for it was not possible that he could take care of himself. At length during a pleasant evening, as the family were quietly enjoying themselves in the parlor, a letter was handed in addressed to the master in quite a neat and respectable hand writing. - He opened and after looking a moment, exclaimed in surprise, it is from Robert. He informed his master that he had safely arrived in Canada and found himself very happy - was quite pleasantly situated; thanked his master and the family for all their kindness; spoke of his mistress with great respect for her kindness; sent his kindest regards to all and especially his dearest love to the children, and closed by earnestly urging hist master to call and “take-tea” with him, should he ever pass that way.
The effect of the unexpected letter upon the family was electrifying. The children were enthusiastic in their expressions of joy - Robert alive, Robert well, Robert free; I wish I could see him; I wish he would come back. The mother of the family wept. She had often expressed her fears that Robert was suffering in the forests or swamps, and the letter seemed to relieve her; she only said “poor fellow, I am glad he has got to Canada.” A son of about twenty years said “I should like to lick the scoundrel an hour.” The master was evidently much chagrined but sat in silence and heard the rejoicing of the children and saw the tears of his wife, finally he said, “I did not think the fellow knew so much.”
“I did not mistrust he would run away, but I would have done just so too.” The conversations about the runaway were frequent, and although the master was evidently enraged and chagrined at the loss of Robert, yet the effect upon him was quite salvatory. He was afflicted with his situation. Mad alike with slavery and abolition, and in a right state of mind to accept of emancipation or any thing that would free him from the curse of slavery. He did not buy other servants to fill the place of his most faithful Robert, but contented himself to hire what was necessary to make up the deficiency of labor.
One man in Baltimore has lost six slaves five of whom were aided by the Albany Committee, and such has been the beneficial effect on the afflicted man that he has since that time hired his servants. Indeed, the loss of servants has become so frequent that very few persons in towns and cities as far north as Washington buy slaves for their own use. $1000 worth of property on feet is not as valuable as formerly, and such investments are not deemed very safe, and the committee are happy to know that slave stocks are depreciating in value daily.
The numerous Judicial trials which have been brought to notice by the efforts of the committee have been instrumental in teaching slaveholders that they cannot much longer make New York their hunting ground. Indeed they are sorely afflicted by these lawsuits, for they cost them a large amount of money, and after all have the honor and satisfaction of getting beat in every case.
The Corresponding Secretary of the Committee has received numerous letters from southern men, which indicate that they are far from being uninfluenced by our efforts. Many of these letters are too vulgar and blasphemous for publication. Although evidently written by men of intelligence, they exhibit a corruption of heart that is indescribable. In June last a most obscene and wicked letter was received enclosing two handbills of which the following is one: -
[end of page]
Sadly, the second page was not included in this find. Although some of this text may seem distasteful today, it was part of an effort to convince Whites of the value of abolishing slavery. The passage about the contrite family of enslavers was especially designed to tug at the heartstrings and engage guilty consciences. In addition, the last selection indicated (accurately or not) that anti-slavery efforts were having some affect even among those who profited from enslaving others. The reference to New York as a "hunting ground" is referring to the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed Southern slaveholders to send "slave catchers" north to recapture people who had escaped slavery. Sadly, many free people were captured and sold into slavery, as was the case with Solomon Northup. Reverend Abel Brown died tragically young, at the age of 34, in 1844, just one year after this report. His widow would go on to write his memoir (linked below).
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