Child, Lydia Maria. "The Emancipated Slaveholders." The Online Archive of Nineteenth-Century U.S. Women's Writings. Ed. Glynis Carr. Online. Internet. Posted: Fall 1997.



The Anti-Slavery conflict is so prolonged, and so arduous, that even abolitionists of strongest faith at times grow weary, and need to have their hands upheld, lest the hosts of Amalek prevail against Israel. During such brief seasons of discouragement, nothing is more cheering, than proof that our appeals have not fallen powerless on the hearts of slaveholders themselves. From time to time, welcome tidings of this kind gladden our souls, and strengthen them for renewed effort. Professor Stowe, of Lane Seminary, recently told me an incident highly interesting and encouraging. He was traveling in the interior of Ohio, and found some difficulty in procuring a supper and lodging for the night. Under these circumstances, he asked and received the hospitality of a family residing in the second story of a building filled with many occupants. A woman, with three or four children around her, spread the table and cooked supper in the same room, which, like the cobbler's stall, served them "for kitchen for parlor and all." The furniture was scanty, and the general aspect of things indicated a state of deprivation bordering on poverty. The woman herself was extremely pretty, intelligent, and lady-like. The delicacy of her hands, the refinement of her manners, and the cultivation of her mind, all implied that her life had not been passed among such scenes as now surrounded her. When her husband came in, his manners and conversation gave similar evidence. The curiosity of their guest was so much excited, that he ventured to inquire how such people as they obviously were came to be in such a place, and under such circumstances.

They told him they were formerly slaveholders in Virginia; but the more they thought upon the subject, the more difficult they found it to reconcile the system of slavery with the dictates of their own consciences. At last, they resolved to emancipate their slaves, to seek the wilds of Ohio, and earn a living for themselves and children by the labor of their own hands.

When asked whether she had not found the sacrifice a very great one, she replied, "At first, labor fatigued me so much, that I feared I never should be able to do all that was necessary for the comfort of my family; but now I have become accustomed to it, and find it easy. It is a privilege to dispense with the lazy, sluttish, and reluctant service of slaves. Never did we feel what it was to be truly free ourselves, till we had made them free."

Professor Stowe added that very many of the more reflecting slaveholders in Kentucky had removed to Ohio, within a few years; their consciences having become ill at ease under the public discussion of slavery. A friend in Philadelphia informs me that a similar emigration is going on from Virginia to Pennsylvania.

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