Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
|CHAPTER IV. -- MORAL EFFORTS.|
IN 1834 Major Delany was actively engaged in the organization of several associations for the relief of the poor of the city, and for the moral elevation of his people. Among them was the first total abstinence society ever formed among the colored people; and another known as the Philanthropic Society, which, while formed ostensibly for benevolent purposes, relative to the indigent of the city, was really the foundation of one of the great links connecting the slaves with their immediate friends in the North, -- known as the "Underground Railroad," -- which, for long years, had baffled the slaveholders. Of its executive board he was for many years secretary.
The work contributed by this association constituted it the invaluable aid of the anti-slavery cause. Its efficiency may be judged from the fact that, while in its infancy, it is recorded that, within one year, not less than two hundred and sixty-nine persons were aided in escaping to Canada and elsewhere.
His sphere in life gave character to him, identifying him with a people and a time at once wonderful and perilous; wonderful that amid all the indignities and outrages heaped upon them, unrebuked by church or state, they did not degenerate into infidels and
This resulted in his being chosen one of the special police from among the blacks and whites appointed in conjunction with the military called out by the intrepid mayor of Pittsburg, Dr. Jonas R. McClintock. Many were the occasions on which he stood among the foremost defenders against those mobs which at that time were more frequent than desirable.
The general grievances of the colored people of the North, occasioned solely on account of caste were a disgrace to the civilization of the age, and incompatible with the elements of our professed republicanism, which induced them to call an assemblage year after year, delegating their best talent to these, for the purpose of placing before the people the true condition of the colored people of the North, and also to devise methods of assisting the slaves of the South.
These conventions were held at an early date. As far back as 1829 we find a National Convention Meeting in Philadelphia, and where for many subsequent years they assembled; and enrolled on their list of members we find the honored names of Robert Douglass (the father of the artist), Hinton, Grice, Bowers, Burr, and Forten, together with Peck, Vashon, Shadd, and others whose names would give dignity and character to any convention.
Through a series of years these continued lifting up their voices against the existing political outrages to which they were subjected. To the last of these (about 1836) Major Delany, together with the Rev. Lewis Woodson, his former preceptor, who, being senior colleague, was chosen to represent other status of the community at large. On arriving at Philadelphia they found the Convention had been transferred to New York; and on their arrival at that point they were notified that it had been indefinitely postponed, chilling the hopes, doubtless, our young delegate with his maiden speech trembling on his lips, the "tremendous applause" ringing in his ears, and other fancies legitimately belonging to the role of a young man for the first time taking his place as a representative among the elders.
About three years after, he attended the Anti-slavery Convention at Pittsburgh. At this convention were many learned divines and a president of one of the universities of Western Pennsylvania. Here he brought upon himself the censure of some of his friends for saying in the course of his argument (concerning Jewish slavery as compared with a that which
A few years before this Delany began the study of medicine under the late Dr. Andrew N. McDowell, but for some cause did not continue to completion, as he entered practically upon dentistry. The knowledge acquired in surgery he made use of whenever immediate necessity required it. On one occasion, in 1839, he went down the Mississippi to New Orleans, thence to Texas. While at Alexandria he met with the chief of adventurers, General Felix Houston, whose attention was attracted by witnessing him dressing the would of a
He watched closely the scenes through which he had passed, and the experience gained among the slaves of the south west was carefully garnered up for future usefulness. His present post of duty on the Sea Island of South Carolina, where he executes the duties of his office with zeal and ability, while his busy brain constantly devises some new measure for the advancement and elevation of the newly recognized people, attests this fact.