[Introduction to Miscellaneous Writings (Manchester, NH: William H. Fisk, 2nd ed 1849)]
By Jno. Pierpont[i]
In presenting to the public a volume of the miscellaneous writings of Nathaniel P. Rogers, his family and friends feel that they are meeting a demand, often and earnestly pressed upo them, and at the same time, contributing something to the cause for which he made great sacrifices, and devoted his highest powers and the best years of his life.
To all those who interested in the writer's reputation, it is a matter of deep regret that his own life was not spared either to make the selection himself, or at least to let a selection, made by another, pass under his eye, and have the benefit of his own judgment, as to the pieces upon which he would be most willing to rest his claim upon the grateful regards of those who should commune with his spirit when his body should be "Commingling slowly with his mother earth."
Yet, had he lived, it doubtful whether he would ever have been induced to do for himself, what his friends have attempted to do for him.. He was more mindful of the good of others, than of his own fame. And it was more in accordance with his own nature to produce and cast abroad the gems of thought, feeling and imagination, than to gather them up in a cabinet for his own gratification, or the admiration even of his friends. But the treasures that he scattered with a liberal, and, for his health and life, quite too prodigal a hand, will be like a choice seed, which, sown in a strong soil, not cultivated enough to be quite ready for it, will yet strike its roots and live, and the fielf into which into which it is cast will yet feel its virtue, and be subdued and fertilized by it. Rogers wrote, as he did everything else, for humanity, and not for fame. He consulted the good of the future, not the fashion of the present; and his claims to the regard, even of the future, he chose to rest rather upon help given to those who "could not help themselves," than upon the good opiniuon of critics or literary connoisseurs.
Whoever reads this book, will see that is writeen by an earnest, and therefore an honest man; a man whose soul was alive to the work to which he put his hand; and who expected not, and asked not, the applause of a sensual and servile age. he sought rather to gratify the cravings of his own fervent spirit, that glowed with love and pity for those who were "despised and rejected of men;" and he did this, knowing that if "the world and they that are therein," have a Creator, who careth for his work, he cannot be indifferent to the welfare of the oppresssed and enslaved, and that he must approve - as ultimately he will prosper - the labors of such as "preach deliverance to the captive, and set at liberty them that are bruised."
Our friend might have worn, but he did not "wear soft raiment, or dwell in kings' houses." Lazarus-like, here "he received evil things." He might have received "good things," or whata in the world pass for such, had he pleased. With his hads full of talents that he might have readily caused to be coined into golden eagles, for the sake of the slave "he became poor." He might have died under a silken canopy, and been followed to the grave far otherwise than he was. But, with eyes wide open,, he chose the course of a confessor and martyr; and as a natural consequence, he drank a confessor's - a martyr's cup. He drank of that cup, especially, for several of the last years of his life. He drank it to the very dregs, during its closing hours; - drank it like a martyr - like a man.
And ehy should he not? A martyr's blood ran in his veins. He was a lineal descendant, from that "John Rogers who was burnt at Smithfield, during the reign of Queen Mary;"[ii] nor had the blood that was shed, nor the spirit that was then tried in the baptism of fire, degenerated by its transmission from the the old martyr's stake at Smithfield, to the modern Abolitionist's death bed at Concord (NH).
([Pierpont's genealogical note:] While Mr. Rogers was in London, in attendance upon the "World's Anti-Slavery Convention," in 1840, he was careful to go upon the ground in Smithfield - now a cattle market - that was sanctified, in his sight, and that of all men who know where true greatness lies, by the martyrdom of his illustrious ancestor.
It may be interesting to some of Mr. Rogers's friends to trace the descent of the Smithfield blood and spirit through the successive generations; to gratify this desire, we have attempted to hunt up the genealogy of the family, which is here given as fully and correctly as we have been able to ascertain it.
1. John Rogers, the Martyr.
2. Nine or ten children; which number appears uncertain.
3. Rev. John Rogers, of Dedham, England, a son of one of them died 18 October 1639, aged 67. His son,
4. Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, was born 1598, came to New England in 1636, and settled in Ipswich, Mass., where he died 3 July, 1655, aged 57. His wife was Margaret, daughter of Robert Crane, of Coggeshall, England; and she died 23 January, 1676. His children were,
5. John, President of Harvard College in 1682, died 2 July, 1684, aged 54; a daughter; Nathaniel, who died in 1680, without issue; Samuel, who married Sarah Wade, 13 November 1661, and died 21 December, 1693; Timothy; and Ezekiel, who had several children, (Nathaniel, Ezekiel, Timorthy, and Samuel) and died in 1674.
The John Rogers who was President of Harvard College, had a son John, who was pastor of the first church in Ipswich, and died 28 Dec., 1745, in his 80th year. The latter had a son Daniel, who was pastor of a church in Exeter, N.H., and died 9 December, 1785, aged 78, and a son Nathaniel, who was pastor of the first church in Portsmouth, N.H.
6. Jeremiah Rogers, of Salem, Mass., who died 1729-30, was the ancestor of N.P. Rogers, and was probablya son of the Samuel or Timothy mentioned in 5, or else a grandson of Samuel, Timothy, or Ezekiel; but at this time, and with the imperfect state of the records, it is supposed impossible to make this certain. His wife was Dorcas. That Jeremiah Rogers was a grandson of Rev. Nathaniel, of Ipswich, is attested on tradition. His granddaughter, Susanna, was the wife of Dr. Jacob Peabody, and mother of the late General Nathaniel Peabody, of Exter, N.H. Jeremiah's son,
7. Rev. John Rogers, was born at Salem, 22 November, 1684, graduated at Harvard College in 1705, and was ordained the minister of Boxford.. He died at Leominster, 17 August, 1755, in his 71st year. His wife was Susanna, daughter of Capt. Manasseh Marston, of Salem. She was born 29 April, 1687, and died at Salem, 22 October, 1757, aged 70. They were married 24 March, 1709. The children were Susanna, John, Benjamin, Mehitabel, Nathaniel, Lydia, and Eunice. Their son,
8. Rev. John Rogers, was born at Boxford, Mass., 24 September, 1712; was ordained the the first minister at Leominster, 14 September, 1744; was dismissed January, 1758, and died in October, 1789, aged 777. His son,
9. Dr. John Rogers, was born at Leominster, Mass., 27 March, 1755; graduated at Harvard College in 1776; settled in Plymouth, N.H., as a physician, and was eminent in his profession, and well known for his poetical talents. His wife was Betsy Mulliken, of Bradford, Mass. He died 8 March, 1814, aged 59. Their fifth child was
Peabody Rogers, who, it will
be seen, was one of the tenth generation of him who is so well known as the
"first in that blessed company of martyrs who suffered in the reign of the
bigoted Mary." Thye blood of
the Martyr flowed pure and in liberal measure in the son even thus distantly
removed. Not only did "heart answer to heart," but wonderfully did
"face answer to face." Those who have seen our deceased friend and a
well-preserved portrait of the Martyr, hanging in one of the halls of the
American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, cannot have failed to notice the
great resemblance in the shape of the face and head, in the eye, the
complexion, and the general expression of the two men.)
I loved too well, and have lamented too deeply, this noble-spirited man, this sensitive child of genius, this self-sacrificing philanthropist, to allow ,me to refuse the office, which, I learn from his afflicted widow, his cherished friendship assigned to me before my death. Speaking of the the contemplated volume of Extracts from his writings, she says, in a note to me, "he began to prepare it, at the request of a number of his friends, some months before his death; and he often expressed his intention to request you to furnish an Introduction; - and I cannot but believe it would be gratifying to you to do it, especially as it was a favorite idea of the dear departed, whose attachment to yourself was both fervent and sincere."
Yet I know myself too well not to know that I shall best discharge the duty assigned me by letting others, who were more constantly in his society, and more closely allied to him than myself, speak in my stead. Being more frequently in his presence, laboring under his eye in the same cause, and partaking largely of his spirit - seeing how manfully he bore his cross while he lived and suffered, and how calmly, after all his labors and sufferings, he could die, - the language in which they speak of our common friend, is much more touching, because much more true to nature, than any that, without their aid, I could command. Much of what follows, therefore, is compiled from an obituary notice of Mr. Rogers, from the pen of John R. French, which appeared in the "Herald of Freedom" of Oct. 23, 1846, and from an article by Richard Hildreth, inserted in the same paper, from the Boston Chronotype, and a few other brief notices, transferred from other journals into the same number of the Herald.[iii]
Mr. Rogers was a son of Dr. John Rogers, of Plymout, N.H., where he was born, June 3, 1794; consequently, he was fifty-two years of age at the time of his death. His father was a highly respectable physician, a man of brilliant intellect and superior education - a graduate of Harvard College of the class of 1777, aqnd a son of Rev. John Rogers of Leominster, Mass., - a clergyman in his day somewhat celebrated for his talents and independence in religious faith, and for his rebellion against ecclesiastical domination.
Mr. Rogers's mother, an intelligent and quite active old lady, still lives, at the advanced age of eighty-six, to mourn the son of her strong affection. The only desire longer to live, expressed by our friend during his sickness was, that he might minister to the wants and comfort of his mother, in the decline of her life; and the only request that he left to his family was, that they would do all in their power to make her happy. The subject of this notice entered Dartmouth College in 1811, but, after remaqining one year, was, through ill health, obliged to leave. He afterwards returned, and, in 1816, took his degree with the class below that which he entered. He immediately afterwards entered upon the study of law; spending two years with Richard Fletcher, then of Salisbury, N.H., now of Boston; and one year with Parker Noyes, also of Salisbury. He then commenced the practice of his profession in his native village, wehere he remained for twenty years, a diligent and successful lawyer. With an instinctive delicacy, - which, while it was ornament of his character, kept all but his intimate friend in ignorance of his ability, - he shrank from the rude encounter of the forum, and was seldom known as a pleader. But, so accurate was his knowledge of the law, and so industrious and shrewd was he in business, that a client's success was always calculated upon from the moment that his assistance was secured.
The mind of our deceased friend was severely and beautifully disciplined. Enriched by a greedy and enthusiastic reading of the book of Nature, and made to love its pages, not only by his delicate and poetic organization, but by the beauty and sublimity of some of the finest scenery on the earth's surface, in the midst of which he had his birth, it had been cultivated by familiarity with the great writers of both ancient and moder times. But for the last ten years of his life, Mr. Rogers had almost entirely given up the reading of books, and turned his whole attention to the condition of men, in their various circumstances of suffering and oppression.
His susceptible heart was among the first to be touched, especially, by the wrongs of the slave. He entered into the Anti-Slavery controversy with great zeal, and presently removed to Concord, for the purpose of more conveniently publishing the "Herald of Freedom," which he edited for some years, with very slight, if any compensation, devoting the whole of his available time to the cause. This paper purported, during a portion of this period, to be under the patronage of the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society. But it owed all its interest, and, in fact, its very existence, to the brilliant contributions and disinterested labors of Mr. Rogers.
To the readers of the "Herald of Freedom" nothing need be said of his ability. As a newspaper writer, we think him unequalled by any living man; and in general strength, clearness, and quickness of his intellect, we think that all who knew him well, will agree with us, that he was not excelled by any editor in the country. His facility in writing was perfectly wonderful. His articles were always written with a rapidity which few can ever attain. Never under the necessity of waiting for the coming up of a thought, or for the arranging of a sentence, his pen seemed to be driven forward by the impetuous current of his thoughts, the fountains of which never seemed to be exhausted. When writing for his paper, the limits of his columns were the only limits to his articles; and during the time of his editing, probably as much as he wrote was omitted for want of room, as was printed.
Mr. Rogers, following the lead of Mr. Garrison, became a non-Resistant. He also, along with Mr. Garrison, loudly appealed to the Church for aid. Of this he had become and ardent and devoted member; and educated in the idea that too the Church we must look for the salvation of humanity, to whom, or to what, but the Church - it was natural for him to ask - shall we look for the redemption of the enslaved millions of our land? But the response that he met from that quarter - so unexpected and so mortifying - led him, as it has led many others, to review his opinions, and to inquire by what title, and by what authority, the Church claims to decide all questionsw of right and wrong. He came to the conclusion that "the Church" is a mere self-constituted association of individuals, whose claim to particular election, special inspiration, or peculiar divine guidance, is without any solid foundation.
Mr. Rogers had been educated in the most profound reverence for the Bible. But having once entered upon the path of free inquiry, he did not shrink nor give back. He concluded, after much reflection, that all moral questions are to be decided by an appeal to reason and conscience, not by texts from ancient writings in Hebrew and Greek - texts, often quite as likely to perplex as to enlighten - however tradition may ascribe to those writings a mysterious or sacred character. At these conclusions our friend arrived, in company with many of his associates in the Anti-Slavery movement; though not all of them, perhaps, were quite so free and candid as himself in the avowal of them.
But upon another point, Mr. Rogers had the fortune to differ from some of his former associates; and a consequent coolness took place between them, which never wholly removed. He refused to adopt the new war-cry lifted up by Mr. Garrison - "no union with slaveholders." He could bring his lips only to say, "no union with slave-holding." He looked upon Anti-Slavery as exclusively a moral agitation, and felt that its high office was degraded by connecting it with party politics, or with a political party. He was a thorough, and meant to be a consistent, Non-resistant. As such, he warmly condemned the formation of the "Liberty Party;" and having denounced the "Third Party," he did not feel himself inclined to join and Fourth, and, with it, or in it, to commence an agitation for the dissolution of the Union, even though that party was headed by Mr. Garrison. He went farther. Having, in company with his non-resistant friends, repudiated all all political organization, by following the same principle, he became an advocate for for "free meetings," and opposed putting the Anti-Slavery movement under the guardianship and control of Chairmen, Committees, and Boards. Disquieted by this inconvenient consistency, and this thorough carrying out of his non-resistant principles, his non-resistant friends in Massachusetts, consulting and cooperating with some of those in New Hampshire, decided that the property of the "Herald of Freedom" was not in him, but in the Board of the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society.
It is not my purpose to enter into the question of the right or wrong of this decision. "Non nostrum tantas componare lites" ["This is no row for amateurs to jump into": Virgil]. I have neither the means, nor the power, nor the wish, to act as umpire in the case. I have friends whom I truly love and honor, on each side of the question, and I have observations and experience enough of human infirmity, and of the liability of the best men to err in their judgments, when deciding questions that deeply interest the feelings, to allow me to believe, as in this case I do believe, that both parties were honest in forming and practically carrying out their judgments as to the right in this trying and keenly contested case.
But Mr. Rogers felt that he was wronged: - more yet - that he had been wounded in the house of his friends; - that they, with whom, for years, he had taken sweet counsel, had lifted up the heel against him. He had looked upon the "Herald of Freedom" as his own child. He had watched over it early and late. He had rocked its cradle alone during long night watches. He had dandled it upon his knee, when he was himself worn and weary in laboring to feed it. And when he did lie down to rest, it lay in his bosom - the object nearest his heart. He had given it its life and his own; - had stamped upon it "the image of himself" - made it glow with the fire of his own genius, and taught it to go forth into the world and do battle for the right, with his own brave spirit. He thought that it was his own child. But when his former friends decided it was not; that he was but the foster-father of the young mountain genius; - though they told him that they still wished him to act as such, - still to feed and clothe it, and let it bear his name - he could not. The tie that had bound him to it was broken. It could never again be to him what it had been, and he withdrew himself from all further care of it, with a desolation of heart that, under no event of his life, had he ever felt before. Thye same shaft that thus struck the heart of the brave Mountain Eagle, broke also his wing. Though his spirit was unconquered and, to the last, had the same high aim, the poor flesh was unequal to do its bidding. He never soared, afterwards, as he had done; and though, in conjunction with the former publisher of the "Herald of Freedom," he edited and published another paper, devoted to the same cause to which he had already given and sacrificed so much, yet he could never make the second paper what the first had been, and even a stranger could see that its editor felt himself a wronged and broken-hearted man.
It is unpleasant to me to say these things; but, in the words of Mr. Hildreth, "they are essential to a true understanding of the character or Mr. Rogers. Tender and gentle, he was yet firm as a rock, neither to be cajoled, brow-beaten, nor driven. Ardent, keen, speaking out his whole mind, there was nothing about him of savage selfishness, or sectarian malice. Cant and humbug, of which so large a share enters into most newspaper compositions, were to him totally unknown."
While suffering from sickness and from abandonment by his former friends, Mr. Rogers had the additional misfortune to find his young and numerous family, through the failure or a relative, to whose hands a large part of his property was entrusted, suddenly deprived of the provision that his industry had made for their education and support. But amid all these sources of irritation, he remained gentle, collected, firm and hopeful as ever. he wrote for the "Herald of Freedom" even with increased diligence; with occasional severity, indeed, yet his sharpest articles were but the brilliant corruscations of indignant genius, and the bitterest were but the true expressions of an honest and uncompromising hatred of wrong. Whatever else there might be found in his columns, you would encounter no dull dribblings of a heart hardened with selfishness, or festering with party spirit.
Evgen among the weakness and sufferings of the summer immediately before his death,as a means, in part, of procuring bread for his children, he wrote the series of "Letters from the Old Man of the Mountain," published in the New York Tribune, which made him known to many who never saw the "Herald of Freedom." A part of the same summer he spent in Lynn, near Boston, whither he went, early in July, to visit his friends there, and to meet "the Hutchinsons," who were then daily expected from Europe.[iv] In a few days after his arrival at Lynn, the disarrangement of his physical system, from which he had been a sufferer for thirty-five years, began to assume a more obstinate and fearful character. When about seventeen years of age, by too violent a participation in the excercise of "foot-ball," during his college life, he injured his side and stomach, which then occasioned a year's severe illness, resulting in chronic dyspepsia, which, together with the derangement of the other sympathetic organs, entailed upon him long years of suffering, and now seemed about to finish the work that had been given it to do. he remained at Lynn, and with his friend Rev. Mr. Sargent, of Somerville, some six weeks, being unable during that time, to undertanke the journey home. Yet such was his desire to be doing good, and to work while the day lasted, that notwithstanding his weakness and pain, he every week furnished a large quota of the editorial matter for the "Lynn Pioneer," which labor, during Mr. Clapp's absence in Europe, he had taken upon his weak but willing shoulders, besides attending and taking part in many Anti-Slavery, Temperance, and other reformatory meetings, that were held in Lynn and its vicinity.
After returning home, Mr. Rogers left his house but a few times. His pains soon became of the most acute character, and continued, without intermission, until about two weeks of his death. So intense was his suffering, that before the close of August his family were in constant expectation of his death. How he was enabled to sustain the conflict, through the long and painful hours of the last six weeks of his life, was a wonder to all who were acquainted with his condition. More wonderful still was it, that his mind, through all the distress of his body, never, for an instant, faltered.
From the commencement of his sickness, he was confident that death was to eb the result, and spoke of his expeectation of the event as calmly and bravely as he ever spoke of any incident of his life. A few days before his death, on observing one of the family in tears at his bed-side, he remarked that he was happy, and wished his family to be so, and to continue about their ordinary duties, just as if he were with him. To the hour of his death he retained unabated interest in all that was doing in the world for the good of man. His constant inquiries were concerning the progress and state of the various philanthropic movements of the day, and for the health and doings of the friends with whom he had been associated in their common labors of benevolence. So strong was his desire still to be in the conflict for the right, and for those who have no helper, that when his hand had become too weak to hold his pen, he would dictate articles for the press, and ask some friend, standing by his bed, to commit his thoughts to paper; and it was only by the earnest remonstrances and entreaties of his friends, who found these efforts greatly increased the nervous excitement, from which he suffered through all his sickness, that he was, at last, prevailed upon to quit the battle-field.
The friends of Mr. Rogers had seen, five years before, the excitement and labors of the Anti-Slavery reform were fast wearing him out; and that his great mental activity was an overmatch for the delicacy and nervous sensitiveness of his physical system. But his deep love for the friendless slave, as well as his truly christian interest in the welfare of those who hold him in his chains, together with his devotion to the general cause of freedom and right, left little room in his heart - large as it was - for thought or care for himself. The alienation of old friends, and the feeling that some who had once loved him, and who, he felt, ought to love him then better than they had ever done, were now finally and hopelessly estranged from him, cast a shade of sadness over the evening of his life, and, doubtless, hastened the going down of his sun. But from this, again, I turn, with something of the sadness and sorrow which one cannot but feel on seeing good and loving hearts torn - and one or both of them being torn- asunder.
On Friday, Oct. 16, with the falling of the leaves, Nathaniel Peabody Rogers breathed his last. Without a struggle, without any of "the pains of death" - without a fear or a regret - in the full, unimpaired enjoyment of his intellect and all his senses - with his family and a few dear friends around him, his life went out, gently and quietly as fades the light of a summer's evening. At times, his bodily distress had been excruciating, causing him to cry out; yet his mind, never at rest, wouild draw food for thought even from his own physical sufferings. The Sunday before his death, - a friend watching with him - in a paroxysm of his suffering he exclaimed, "O, dear!" - then seeming to reflect upon his own exclamation, he repeated it, and said, "That's the cry now. This is the closing of my terrible labors." the friend replied that it must be a consolation to him to consider that he had not sacrificed himself in vain - that many had been blessed by his labors. Mr. Rogers said, "O yes, my dear N____; it sustains me unspeakably, - the reflection that I have acted right."
A short time before his death, he desired that some one would go and ask Judson Hutchinson, who was in town, to come and sing to him. While waiting for his friend, he requested one of his daughters to sing him Samuel Lover's beautiful song, "The Angel's Whisper." In the singing, a word was accented wrong, and he immediately indicated by whispering the word with the correct accent; thus giving evidence. at once, of the calm and natural state of his mind, and his undying desire to have every thing, that was done, done right.
At the close of the song, he was asked whether Hutchinson, who had arrived during the singing, should come into the room. He spoke not, but made a slight motion of his hand, that was lying upon the pillow, which attracted attention, and, from the peculiar manner in which his eyes were fixed upon a window, opposite to his bed, it was seen that the event that had, for weeks, been expected, was about to take place. His oldest brother, who is a physician, and who had been with him several weeks during his sickness, was called in from an adjoining room. He spoke to his brother, and asked if he knew him. The dying man turned his eyes to the speaker, and, with emotion, calling him by name, replied, "cerainly," and then asked his wife, who was standing by, whether he understood his brother right, and why he had asked that question. In about ten minutes, with no other word, or a groan, or the moving of a muscle, "he was not, for God had taken him."
"on Sunday afternoon," says Mr. French, "a few neighbors and friends met at his late house, and, after an hour spent in social conversation, in which we relieved each other's sorrow by a remebrance of the virtuous life and calm death of our departed friend, we took his lifeless body, and buried it in a retired corner of the village grave-yard, beneath the sheltering shade of a kindly clump of oaks. In the same yard are buried Kimball and Cady, the two noble men who were the Editors of the Herald, previous to Mr. Rogers' connection with it. The paper has been published but eleven years, yet the three men who have conducted its columns, have passed from life, - two of them while in its service. An admonistion to us, who are left, to be diligent in the work that is given to us to do.
"From the establishment of the Herald, in 1835, Mr. Rogers had constantly furnished communications for its columns. He assumed the editorial care of the paper, the last week of June, 1838, and furnished his last copy of the last week of June, the present year, . The amount of labor and thought that he had given through the columns of the Herald, its readers, for the eight years, well know. In addition to hbis tireless labors upon the Herald, he had, one year, edited the 'National Anti-Slavery Standard,' and , the past summer, had furnished the editorial for the 'Lynn Pioneer;' and, for the eight years, had been in the habit of furnishing articles for various other papers; and was always ready, when his friends called, to attend Anti-Slavery meetings, in all parts of New England; never consulting his own interessts, but always the desires of his friends and the necessities of the cause."
Mr. French, to whom I am indebted for most of the facts, and for much of the language of these pages, says, in the same number of "The Herald of Freedom" that contains his obituary notice of the subject of this sketch, "Weary of contact with a world that gave him so little sympathy, Mr. Rogers, last spring, purchased himself a small, but very beautiful farm, in a retired nook of his own native Pemigewasset valley; whither he was intending to remove, with his family, at about the time of his decease. The world gave him not only little sympathy, but also little bread for his children. Upon his land he would be able -n that was his hope - to procure the means of living; and, thus relieved from the cankering care and perplexity that were preying upon his life, and removed from the chilling intercourse of the world, which so little understood him, he hoped that he might be able to think deeper and clearer, and to wield his pen with a stronger heart. During the past summer, his thoughts were constantly upon his mountain retreat, where, in the quiet enjoyment of his most deeply cherished family, and amid the familiar scenes of his younger days, and in the healthful pursuits of agriculture, he was promising himself happy rest from the storm that had been tossing his shattered vessel for the last six years. But, alas! how uncertain are all man's hopes!"
True, he found not that "happy rest," - but I doubt not, nor can I doubt, that he has found a happier one than that - happier than even his affectionate heart, that clung so lovingly to his happy home, ever painted: - I mean ,"the rest that remaineth to the people of God."
But do I not forget that he was an "Infidel?" nay, that he was "an Excommunicated person?" - O, no. If to be an unbeliever in religion - by whatever name you baptize it - that expends itself upon catechisms and creeds, in church organizations and observances, in prayer meetings, revivals, awakenings, and the singing of psalms - to the neglect of Human Rights and Wrons - of the sorrows and sufferings - the temptations, trials, and oppressions of man, is to be an Infideal, N.P. Rogers was an Infidel indeed; yea, and he gloried i his infidelity. But let me add, had he been a believer in such a religion, and lived according to his belief, he would have been "worse than an infideal." But was he not an outcast from the church - an excommunicate? Yes, the church excommunicated him; but, before that, he had excummunicated the church. The church, as a body, he had found unfaithful to what he understood to be its "high calling," as the church of Him who came "to set at liberty them that are bruised." He therefore "came out" from it, as the only condition of fidelity to his own high calling, not merely as a disciple of Jesus, but as a man - a child of that God, whom all nature - his own nation, not less than the rest of creation - revealed to him as the lover of right and humanity, and the Almighty hater of all oppression and wrong.[v] He wanted no printed book to teach him this. A revelation older than King James' Translators' - older than the books that they brought over from Greek and Hebrew into the English tongue had taught him - for he was a lover of music - that slavery was a discord, that could never be brought into unison with the harmonies of the universe. To him, - if one should argue that slavery was from God, because it was approved in a book that came from Him; it would prove, not that alvery was from God, but that the book was not. To him, there was a Teacher above all books a\nd all men: - the Being that had given him being - and it was in the spirit which that Teacher - and "who teacheth like him? - had given, that when, on a certain occasion, a religionist by Book said to him, "Why do you go about as you do, agitating the community on the subject of abolition? Jesus Christ never preached abolitionism:" he replied, "Sir, I have two answers to your appeal to Jesus Chist. First, I deny your proposition, that he never preached abolition. That single precept of his - 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even unto them' - reduced to practice, would abolish slavery over the whole earth in twenty-four hours. That is my first answer. I deny your proposition. Secondly, granting your proposition to be true - and admitting - what I deny - that Jesus Christ did not preach the abolition of slavery, then i say, he didn't do his duty."
It would not be very easy, I admit, to stop such a man from doing his duty, by casting a Greek or a Hebrew text in his way as a stumbling-block! And so he was an "Infidel;" and so he was "excommunicated." When the church has attained somewhat more of "the wisdom that is from above," she will take such men into her bosom, instead of casting them out; and will show herself worthy of the communion of such men, by encouraging them in their work, and in going along with them to do it!
It is not to be denied, too, that Rogers did not pretend to know so much concerning a future life, as many others think that they know. But this he did know. "That if, as holiest men have deemed, there be/A land of souls beyond that sable shore,/ To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee - " the same Being that rules in this world must rule in that; - that there, as here, they will have served Him best, who have served his children, by doing the most to help them who have most needed help. In this faith N.P. Rogers lived; - in this he labored, and in this he died. "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
His earthly labors are at an end. "He sleeps his long sleep, he had fought his last battle." He has no more sacrifices to offer here upon the altar of Truth, Liberty, and Humanity; no more cherished friends to lose because he would not sacrifice his convictions or his principles, to retain them. From his earthly toils and trials he is at rest. I cannot but think that for him to die was gain, because I verily believe that for him to live was Christ (Phil 1.21); that is, that making little or no account of the name, he lived for the advancement of the cause of Christ; the cause for which Christ himself lived, labored and died, namely the redemption of universal man from slavery, spiritual and carnal; the emancipation of man from the power and fear of man; the liberation of man, as man, from all dominion and all authority but that of reason, truth and right.
Of Mr. Rogers, as a writer, I need say little. On this point "he being dead, yet speaketh;" and he speaks for himself as no one else can speak for him. He wrote without any thing of that "fear of man that bringeth a snare" to so many writers in this age of criticism and Reviews - as though he was not aware that such an animal as a critic had ever been created. He wrote because he had something to say, and, true to nature - for to him nature was truth - he spoke "right on," with the artlessness and simplicity of a child. He sets down things just as he sees and feels them; using words not because others do, or do not use them, but because they are just the medium - the atmosphere - through which others can see what he is looking at, just as he sees it. In one word, his style is his own, and nobody's else. Transparency, purity, simplicity, earnestness and force will be seen to characterize whatever he writes; and when the reader has finished one of his paragraphs, the last question that he will ask himself will be, "Well, now, what does all that mean?" - Though humor was by no means his forte, whenever he chose, he could use it with great effect. In well-chosen words, Mr. Hildreth has said, "Many of his pieces have all the genial humor of Lamb, with a higher seasoning of sprightly wit than Lamb ever attained to. He had, indeed, higher objects, and, of course, greater earnestness and spirit. He was not, like Lamb, a mere writer for amusement, but one of those modern heroes whose sword is their pen. A champion for spiritual freedom and the right of private judgment, he will be long remembered and loved by many, to whom he first showed the way out of bondage."
the true friend of his race - especially the wronged of his race - this dear friend of mine is gone. I know that all who knew him well, will say with Mr. French, when remembering what he was, and thinking that he is with us no longer, - "Our hearts are sad; but our departed friend left us a very pleasant memory. His righteous life and triumphant death lift our thoughts from the grave. In our sorrow let us not forget the slave. He still groans in his prison house, and the religion of the land still sanctions the wrong. When death comes to us, may it find us, as it did our dear friend, with the harness on, and in the midst of the conflict."
Sunday, the 18th of October, the remains of N.P. Rogers were borne to the grave by a few loving and faithful friends. Having loved him, they loved him unto death. I well remeber the day. It was a snowy day, - the first snow of our northern autumn. Winter seemed to have come upon us before his time. Returning from the humble chapel where I had led the worship of a small society, concerning whose faith "we know, that every where, it is spoken against" (Acts xxviii. 22.), I could not but feel saddened by the early desolation and dreariness of the scene. Little did I think that the frost of death had already fallen, before its time, upon my poor friend Rogers, and that his cold remains were, even then, on their way, through falling snows, from his late home, to "the house appointed to all the living." Yet so it was. And she, wjho had so bravely helped him bear his cross, watched by the side of his bed, and communicated with his dear but distant friends, informing them that there was no hope left that her husband's life could long be spared to them and to her, with her children - one of whom, two days before, had sung the father and husband to sleep with her sweet "Angel's Whisper," - sitting, a widow in affliction, in the house that was left to them, O how desolate!
May I not hope that that little family choir - for the children all sing sweetly, - when gathered in their secluded mountain home, will sometimes sing these lines, as a memorial not of their father only, but also of their father's friend and theirs?
[i] [Wikipedia, 4.21.08] John Pierpont (1785 - 1866), poet, born at Litchfield, Connecticut, was successively a teacher, lawyer, merchant, and lastly a Congregational minister. His most famous poem is The Airs of Palestine.
John Pierpont had careers as a tutor, attorney, merchant, and minister. In 1816 he began his religious work as a theology student, first in Baltimore and then at Harvard, afterwards accepting an appointment as pastor at the Hollis Street Church in Boston (1819-1845). During his tenure, Pierpont was instrumental in establishing Boston's English Classical School in 1821 and gained national recognition as an educator. He published two of the better-known early school readers in the United States, The American First Class Book (1823) and The National Reader (1827). However, Pierpont's latter years at the Hollis Street Church were characterized by controversy. His social activism for temperance and abolition angered some parishioners, and after a long public battle, he resigned in 1845.
After his resignation, Pierpont served as pastor of a Unitarian church in Troy, New York (1845-1849), and then led the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Medford, Massachusetts (1849-1858). He ran for Massachusetts governor during the 1840s as a Liberty Party candidate, and in 1850 as a Free Soil Party candidate for the US House of Representatives. After two weeksı service as a 76-year-old military chaplain with the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer's Regiment during the Civil War, Pierpont was given an appointment in the Treasury Department in Washington, which he held from 1861 until his death.
Pierpont gained a literary reputation with his book Airs of Palestine: A Poem (1816), re-published in an anthology by the same name in 1840. He also published moral literature, such as Cold Water Melodies and Washington Songster (comp. 1842). In addition, he is probably the anonymous "gentleman" who co-authoredThe Drunkard; or, The Fallen Saved (1844), attributed to W. H. Smith, an actor and stage manager at Moses Kimball's Boston Museum. The Drunkard quickly became one of the most popular temperance plays in America.
Pierpont's many published sermons include, among others, The Burning of the Ephesian Letters (1833), Jesus Christ Not a Literal Sacrifice (1834), New Heavens and a New Earth (1837), Moral Rule of Political Action (1839), National Humiliation (1840), and A Discourse on the Covenant with Judas (1842). With publication of Phrenology and the Scriptures (1850), Pierpont became known not only as a reform lecturer, but also as an expert on phrenology and spiritualism.
Pierpont was an important influence on reform-minded antebellum poets. Along with John Greenleaf Whittierıs verse, Pierpontıs poems were frequently recited at public antislavery meetings. Oliver Johnson, a leading antislavery publisher and Garrison associate, published Pierpontıs Anti-Slavery Poems in 1843. The collection contains poems that had appeared mostly in the poetry columns of The Liberator and The National Anti-Slavery Standard. Pierpontıs writings were also anthologized widely in antislavery poetry collections, such as William Allenıs Autographs of Freedom (1853).
Contrary to some inaccurate histories and attributions, John Pierpont was not the author of the Christmas song ³Jingle Bells²; its author was his son, James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893), who (ironically) served in the First Georgia Cavalry and wrote patriotic hymns for the Confederacy. John Pierpont was also the maternal grandfather of financier J. Pierpont Morgan.
[ii] [Wikipedia, 4.21.2008] John Rogers (c. 1505 4 February 1555) was a minister, Bible translator and commentator, and the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I of England. He was born in Deritend in the parish of Aston, near Birmingham, and was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge University, where he graduated B.A. in 1526. In 1532, he was rector of Holy Trinity, Queenhithe, London, and in 1534, he went to Antwerp as chaplain to the English merchants of the Company of the Merchant Adventurers.
Here he met William Tyndale, under whose influence he abandoned the Roman Catholic faith, and married Antwerp native Adriana de Weyden (b. 1522, anglicised to Adrana Pratt in 1552) in 1537. After Tyndale's death, Rogers pushed on with his predecessor's English version of the Old Testament, which he used as far as 2 Chronicles, employing Myles Coverdale's translation (1535) for the remainder and for the Apocrypha.
Tyndale's New Testament had been published in 1526. The complete Bible was put out under the pseudonym of Thomas Matthew in 1537; it was printed in Paris and Antwerp by Adriana's uncle, Sir Jacobus van Meteren. Richard Grafton published the sheets and got leave to sell the edition (1500 copies) in England.
The pseudonym "Matthew" is associated with Rogers, but it seems more probable that Matthew stands for Tyndale's own name, which, back then, was dangerous to employ. Rogers had little to do with the translation; his own share in that work was probably confined to translating the prayer of Manasses (inserted here for the first time in a printed English Bible), the general task of editing the materials at his disposal, and preparing the marginal notes collected from various sources. These are often cited as the first original English language commentary on the Bible. Rogers also contributed the Song of Manasses in the Apocrypha, which he found in a French Bible printed in 1535. His work was largely used by those who prepared the Great Bible (1539-40), and from this came the Bishops' Bible (1568) and the King James Version.
After taking charge of a Protestant congregation in Wittenberg for some years, Rogers returned to England in 1548, where he published a translation of Melanchthon's Considerations of the Augsburg Interim.
In 1550 he was presented to the crown livings of St Margaret Moyses and St Sepulchre in London, and in 1551 was made a prebendary of St. Paul's, where the dean and chapter soon appointed him divinity lecturer. He courageously denounced the greed shown by certain courtiers with reference to the property of the suppressed monasteries, and defended himself before the privy council. He also declined to wear the prescribed vestments, donning instead a simple round cap. On the accession of Mary he preached at Paul's Cross commending the "true doctrine taught in King Edward's days," and warning his hearers against "pestilent Popery, idolatry and superstition."
Ten days later (August 16, 1553), he was summoned before the council and bidden to keep within his own house. His emoluments were taken away and his prebend was filled in October. In January 1554, Bonner, the new Bishop of London, sent him to Newgate Prison, where he lay with John Hooper, Laurence Saunders, John Bradford and others for a year. Their petitions, whether for less rigorous treatment or for opportunity of stating their case, were disregarded. In December 1554, Parliament re-enacted the penal statutes against Lollards, and on January 22, 1555, two days after they took effect, Rogers (with ten other people) came before the council at Gardiner's house in Southwark, and defended himself in the examination that took place. On January 28 and January 29, he came before the commission appointed by Cardinal Pole, and was sentenced to death by Gardiner for heretically denying the Christian character of the Church of Rome and the real presence in the sacrament. He awaited and met death cheerfully, though he was even denied a meeting with his wife. He was burned at the stake on February 4, 1555 at Smithfield. Noailles, the French ambassador, speaks of the support given to Rogers by the greatest part of the people: "even his children assisted at it, comforting him in such a manner that it seemed as if he had been led to a wedding."
The quotation that follows is from Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Chapter 16. The text is biased towards Protestantism. However, it is included here because of its historical significance, being the vehicle by which the story of Rev. John Rogers has been most widely disseminated.
"John Rogers was educated at Cambridge, and was afterward many years chaplain to the merchant adventurers at Antwerp in Brabant. Here he met with the celebrated martyr William Tyndale, and Miles Coverdale, both voluntary exiles from their country for their aversion to popish superstition and idolatry. They were the instruments of his conversion; and he united with them in that translation of the Bible into English, entitled "The Translation of Thomas Matthew." From the Scriptures he knew that unlawful vows may be lawfully broken; hence he married, and removed to Wittenberg in Saxony, for the improvement of learning; and he there learned the Dutch language, and received the charge of a congregation, which he faithfully executed for many years. On King Edward's accession, he left Saxony to promote the work of reformation in England; and, after some time, Nicholas Ridley, then bishop of London, gave him a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral, and the dean and chapter appointed him reader of the divinity lesson there. Here he continued until Queen Mary's succession to the throne, when the Gospel and true religion were banished, and the Antichrist of Rome, with his superstition and idolatry, introduced.
The circumstance of Mr. Rogers having preached at Paul's cross, after Queen Mary arrived at the Tower, has been already stated. He confirmed in his sermon the true doctrine taught in King Edward's time, and exhorted the people to beware of the pestilence of popery, idolatry, and superstition. For this he was called to account, but so ably defended himself that, for that time, he was dismissed. The proclamation of the queen, however, to prohibit true preaching, gave his enemies a new handle against him. Hence he was again summoned before the council, and commanded to keep his house. He did so, though he might have escaped; and though he perceived the state of the true religion to be desperate. He knew he could not want a living in Germany; and he could not forget a wife and ten children, and to seek means to succor them. But all these things were insufficient to induce him to depart, and, when once called to answer in Christ's cause, he stoutly defended it, and hazarded his life for that purpose.
"After long imprisonment in his own house, the restless Bonner, bishop of London, caused him to be committed to Newgate, there to be lodged among thieves and murderers.
"After Mr. Rogers had been long and straitly imprisoned, and lodged in Newgate among thieves, often examined, and very uncharitably entreated, and at length unjustly and most cruelly condemned by Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, the fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord 1555, being Monday in the morning, he was suddenly warned by the keeper of Newgate's wife, to prepare himself for the fire; who, being then sound asleep, could scarce be awaked. At length being raised and awaked, and bid to make haste, then said he, "If it be so, I need not tie my points." And so was had down, first to bishop Bonner to be degraded: which being done, he craved of Bonner but one petition; and Bonner asked what that should be. Mr. Rogers replied that he might speak a few words with his wife before his burning, but that could not be obtained of him.
"When the time came that he should be brought out of Newgate to Smithfield, the place of his execution, Mr. Woodroofe, one of the sheriffs, first came to Mr. Rogers, and asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine, and the evil opinion of the Sacrament of the altar. Mr. Rogers answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." Then Mr. Woodroofe said, "Thou art an heretic." "That shall be known," quoth Mr. Rogers, "at the Day of Judgment." "Well," said Mr. Woodroofe, "I will never pray for thee." "But I will pray for you," said Mr. Rogers; and so was brought the same day, the fourth of February, by the sheriffs, towards Smithfield, saying the Psalm Miserere by the way, all the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy; with great praises and thanks to God for the same. And there in the presence of Mr. Rochester, comptroller of the queen's household, Sir Richard Southwell, both the sheriffs, and a great number of people, he was burnt to ashes, washing his hands in the flame as he was burning. A little before his burning, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted; but he utterly refused it. He was the first martyr of all the blessed company that suffered in Queen Mary's time that gave the first adventure upon the fire. His wife and children, being eleven in number, ten able to go, and one sucking at her breast, met him by the way, as he went towards Smithfield. This sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him, but that he constantly and cheerfully took his death with wonderful patience, in the defence and quarrel of the Gospel of Christ."
[iii] [Wikipedia, 4.21.2008] Richard Hildreth (June 28, 1807 - July 11, 1865), United States journalist and historian, was born at Deerfield, Massachusetts, the son of Hosea Hildreth (1782-1835), a teacher of mathematics and later a Congregational minister.
Richard graduated at Harvard College in 1826, and, after studying law at Newburyport, was admitted to the bar at Boston in 1830. He had already taken to journalism, and in 1832 he became joint founder and editor of a daily newspaper, the Boston Atlas.
Having in 1834 gone to the South for the benefit of his health, he was led by what he witnessed of the evils of slavery (chiefly in Florida) to write the anti-slavery novel The Slave: or Memoir of Archy Moore (1836; enlarged edition, 1852, The White Slave). In 1837 he wrote for the Atlas a series of articles vigorously opposing the annexation of Texas. In the same year he published Banks, Banking, and Paper Currencies, a work which helped to promote the growth of the free banking system in America.
In 1838 he resumed his editorial duties on the Atlas, but in 1840 removed, on account of his health, to British Guiana, where he lived for three years and was editor of two weekly newspapers in succession at Georgetown. He published in this year (1840) a volume in opposition to slavery, Despotism in America (2nd ed., 1854).
In 1849 he published the first three volumes of his History of the United States, two more volumes of which were published in 1851 and the sixth and last in 1852. The first three volumes of this history, his most important work, deal with the period 1492-1789, and the second three with the period 1789-1821. The history is notable for its painstaking accuracy and candor, as they are based on very careful analysis of the primary sources. The later volumes favor the Federalists. In dealing with the Jeffersonians, Hildreth calls them both "Republicans" and "Democrats" on the same page, but never "Democratic Republicans."
Hildreth's Japan as It Was and Is (1855) was at the time a valuable digest of the information contained in other works on that country (new ed., 1906). He also wrote a campaign biography of William Henry Harrison (1839); Theory of Morals (1844); and Theory of Politics (1853), as well as Lives of Atrocious Judges (1856), compiled from Lord Campbell's two works. Between 1857 and 1860 Hildreth worked for the New York Tribune and during the same period he wrote several anti-slavery tracts for the fledgling Republican party under various pseudonyms. Poor health forced him to retire from his writing career in 1860. As a meed Massachusetts Governor Nathaniel Prentiss Banks and Senator Charles Sumner successfully lobbied for Hildreth's appointment as the United States consul at Trieste in 1861. In 1865 he resigned from that position and moved to Florence, where he died on the 11th of July 1865. He is buried near Theodore Parker in the 'English' Cemetery, Florence.
[iv] [Wikipedia, 4.21.2008] The Hutchinson Family Singers were a 19th-century American family singing group who sang about political causes in four-part harmony. The group formed in the wake of a string of successful tours by Austrian singing groups such as the Tyrolese Minstrels and when American newspapers were demanding the cultivation of native talent. John Hutchinson orchestrated the group's formation with his brothers Asa, Jesse, and Judson Hutchinson in 1840; the Hutchinsons gave their first performance that same year. Jesse Hutchinson quit the main group to write songs and manage their affairs; he was replaced by sister Abby Hutchinson.
The Hutchinsons were a hit with both audiences and critics, and they toured the Northeastern United States until 1845. They popularized closed four-part harmony in the United States and made it common in other genres, such as blackface minstrelsy. On Jesse Hutchinson's lead, the group sang about controversial material, including abolitionism, temperance, and women's rights.
In the 1830s, European intinerate entertainers such as the Austrian Tyrolese Minstrels and the Strassers toured the United States and whetted American appetites for groups who sang in four-part harmony. John Hutchinson saw a Tyrolese Minstrels concert in either Boston or Lynn, Massachusetts, probably in 1840. He was impressed by what he heard, and he decided to teach the rest of his family to sing in the same style.
John Hutchinson and three of his brothers (Asa, Jesse, and Judson) dubbed themselves the Hutchinson Family Singers and gave their first concert in Milford, New Hampshire, in 1840. They performed again in Lynn the following year. The group sang mostly European songs, such as those by Henry Russell or the Tyrolese Rainers, but Jesse Hutchinson soon quit to write original material and to manage the group's affairs. The remaining three members eventually adopted the name Aeolian Singers. Twelve-year-old Abby Hutchinson, a high tenor, took Jesse Hutchinson's place to complete the quartet.
When a member of the group wrote a new song, each of the four singers individually decided his or her own part to create the harmony. John Hutchinson later recalled,
Judson had a naturally high voice, a pure tenor. My voice was a baritone, though I sang falsetto easily, and Asa had a deep bass. Abby had an old-fashioned "counter" or contralto voice. The result was an effect like that of a male quartet. Abby's part being the first tenor, Judson's second tenor, mine first and Asa's second bass, respectively. But we practiced an interchange of parts as we sang, and the blending of the voices was so perfect that it seemed quite impossible for the audience to distinguish the several parts.
The Hutchinsons performed across New England in 1842, taking in as much as $130 per performance. In 1843, Jesse wrote "The Old Granite Slate", a song about the Hutchinson family, their origins in New Hampshire, and their itinerant lifestyle. The song became their signature number.
American newspapers of the time were trumpeting "native talent", and critics responded favorably to the Hutchinsons' early concerts, although they did express misgivings about the group's song selection. After the Hutchinson Family Singers' first New York City concert on May 13, 1843, the New York Tribune wrote:
The Hutchinson family gave a concert on Saturday evening and acquitted themselves quite well. They . . . know how to make music, decidedly, though some of their songs are not well chosen either to gratify the audience or exhibit their peculiar powers. We wish they would take care to favor the unscientific public with the words of their songs distinctly. Russell does so, and it is to thousands one of the best points of his singing.
When the Hutchinsons' advertised in the Herald on May 13, 1843 that their program featured "their most popular Quartettes, Trios, Solos, such as have not failed to please fashionable audiences in Boston and many other cities and towns in New England," the Tribune responded:
They need not fear in New York to give us songs embodying Sentiment as well as those of a descriptive or humorous character. We trust they will be heard again and more than once in our city; for we are sure there are thousands among us who would hear them with signal satisfaction.
After a performance at the New York Society Library on May 17, the Tribune was more approving:
Their style of singing is admirablesimple, sweet, and full of mountain melody. Their voices are all rich and dear, and their whole execution is in a most chaste and grateful style . . . . Mr. Hutchinson not only sang ["The Maniac"] but acted itand that in a manner not only perfectly chaste and without offending delicacy and decorum but with clear adherence to truth and great effect.
The Tribune still disapproved of their song choices, asking "How can they choose [their programs] so badly?" and claiming that poems set to music and rehashed songs from other composers with only a few new pieces were not good enough.
Nevertheless, the Hutchinsons were a hit, the first American close-harmony quartet to see such success. They adopted the name Tribe of Jesse after further touring in 1843. Imitators appeared, and the Hutchinsons even toured with one of these, the Luca family, in 1859. Four-part harmony became an important component of all American popular music. Minstrel show troupes compared themselves to the Hutchinsons. In 1844, the Congo Minstrels advertised that "their songs are sung in Harmony in the style of the Hutchinson Family." Other minstrels parodied the group. The Harmoneon Family Singers (later the Boston Harmoneons) wore powdered wigs and faces and called themselves the Albino Minstrels or the Albino Family in what was supposed to be a blackface show.
In 1845, the family toured Great Britain. Meanwhile, Caleb, Joshua, Rhoda, and Zephaniah Hutchinson toured the United States under the name Home Branch of the Hutchinson Family. When the original group returned, they angrily put an end to the Home Branch. The Hutchinsons added several original songs at this time.
At the urging of Jesse Hutchinson, the group took up various causes. Among these were abolitionism, temperance, and women's rights. In December 1842, John Hutchinson signed a petition affiliated with an abolitionist rally in Milford. By the following year, the Hutchinsons had become vocal abolitionists. Asa Hutchinson wrote,
About this time  an antislavery convention was held in Milford attended by Wm. Lloyd Garrison. . . . The custom at once enlisted the sympathies of the young men. Accustomed to roam at freedom among their own Hills, they abhorred slavery and pitied the slave. More than this they nobly resolved to exert their influence on behalf of the captives. To this end they prepared and sang antislavery songs.
They traveled with Frederick Douglass in England in 1845 and stayed for almost a year. Original songs such as "Get Off the Track!", "Right over Wrong", and "The Slave's Appeal" addressed these issues. Abby Hutchinson wrote "Song of Our Mountain Home" in 1850. In includes the line, "Among our free hills are true hearts and brave, / The air of our mountains ne'er breathed on a slave."
[v] [Wikipedia, 4.21.2008] The comeouter church phenomenon was an abolitionist movement in 19th Century America named for a verse in the Book of Revelation (18:4): ³And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of [Babylon], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.² The movement attempted to get churches to become more actively abolitionist and less accommodating to the government.