Hosea Easton on Thanksgiving in Suffering


Born free in 1798, Hosea was the son of a part Indian man and a mixed-race woman. His brother married a white woman and lived a predominantly white existence. His well-to-do parents were adamantly anti-rascist. When their church inBoston created a porch for Negro families, theEaston family refused to leave their pew, and was forcibly removed from the congregation. They joined another church, purchased a pew, and found it tarred and unusable. However they returned the next week with their own chairs. They were ultimately banished from that church as well.

His father fought in the revolution then opened an iron foundry and labor school. It was run out of business. Hosea along with William Garrison would later attempt to establish a similar school, but it was closed as well (in many states it was illegal to train or teach blacks). After taking over a church inHartford, he found it burned to the ground.

As a member of the Anti-Slavery Society he called whites everywhere to join the case reasoning that racism was a white problem which could only be solved by them choosing not to hate. Speaking prophetically he argued in 1837 that

“the spirit of slavery will survive in the form of racial prejudice, long after the system of slavery is overturned. Our warfare ought not to be against slavery alone but against the spirit which makes color a mark of degradation.”[1]

He died at age 41. He and his wife were buried in Hartford. Slavery was buried at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865. Prejudice lives on.

Here is an excerpt from his Address before the Coloured population of Providence Rhode Island on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27, 1828):

“The memorable fourth of July, brings into our view, that important era of our country, when our liberties were threatened byEngland’s pride. But methinks, I hear, a braveWashington, standing on his dignified eminence, exclaiming,Liberty!Liberty!Liberty! Or death. His valiant confederates rejoin’d the theme, and ere long, every heart burned with the fire ofLiberty. The Ensign of Liberty was hoisted, and manfully defended. A Constitution was wisely framed, declaring all men to be free and equal. Who can say that our constitution is not founded on the principles of liberty and equality! We are indebted, then to divine providence for thos prospering our march as a nation. Many other blessings that we enjoy, might be brought into notice. But time will not permit us even to contemplate one out of ten thousand of the blessings we enjoy daily. How animating then is the celubrious (salubrious, sic) sound of Liberty. The voice of Luberty calls the energies of the human soul to emerge out of nature;s darkness, and to explore divine spiritual principles; from thence to angelic. How, admirable it is, that the higher the soul arises by being expanded by intelligent perception, the more it breathes forth praise and thanksgiving to God, still beholding momentarily new delights in the vast field of Liberty, which God has given it for an inheritance, it bursts forth in the inspired language of the Psalmist, ‘it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises to thy name, O most High. For thou Lord hast made me glad through thy work. I will triumph in the work of thy hands.’  Again- if  we follow the same train of reflection in natural intelligence, we shall find that liberty has proportionally the same effect and proffers the same reward. In this, our country, how soon do we see the infant grow to a stature which qualifies him to fill the highest seat of honor among our rulers? And thus be able to rejoice to see the expanded wings ofLiberty, brooding over her votarie, sheltering them from slavery and oppression. But while I have endeavored to inspire your hearts with thankfulness to God, there has reflections forced themselves into my mind which has caused me to tremble for the fate of this country. OAmerica! Listen to your subjects. Allied to you by birth and blooded. Shut out from all slavery which you have riveted on their necks. Look atVirginia! Look atWashington! See droves of your subjects couple together by pairs, while others are administering the laws ofLiberty. And to fill out the file, we see those, who have received the dignified appellation of ‘Negro Drivers,’ inflicting merciless stripes upon their fellow subjects; drawing forth their march, some from their wives, some from their parents, some from their children, others from all that is near and dear to them. And for what? To gratify the avarice of proudAmerica. O,Liberty, where art thou! Is this all? No! We will pass on. Leaving behind though the barbous cruelty imposed upon the natives, and as to the hellish practice of importing a foreign nation to a country of liberty, to be sold into slavery; it were better to be buried in oblivion and remembered no more forever. There are about 500,000 of the above named sufferers, who are said to be free, which assertion I deny. It is true, we live under a milder State Administration at present. It is also true, that we are in some respects exalted to heaven, in point ofLiberty, above that of our fellow subjects, who are under the immediate scourge of avarice. Their awful situation, doubtless, many of you have experience- while others of you have been eyewitnesses to the bloody scenes of cruelty and murder. Brethren, what was the sensation of your minds, when you beheld many of the female sex, pregnant with their young, tried to a tree or stake, and whipt by their masters, until nature gave way, and both mother and infant yielded to the ghost, while bearing the hellish scourge of these candidates from hell?…. What were they, I would ask, when you saw these things and many more, in the very heart of our country- a country ofLiberty-near the seat of government? Did not the spirit of Liberty cry within you, for vengeance to fall upon this country, which has so falsified the principles ofLiberty, and trampled justice under foot. Now as we compose a part of the number who are said to be free, of course it becomes our duty to consider how far our liberty extends….

God has raised up some able amabassadors of truth among our population; and though they are held in contempt among the whites, yet God has caused his light to shine through them, to the great shame of their oppressors….

My heart is filled with sorrow for this nation. I am far from being envious, and I would caution against any revengeful or malignant passions; but stand still and see the salvation of God. Stand still did I say? Yes, so far as it respects the providence of God; we are to stand still, look, wonder, and adore. But as it respects the great labour and ardent zeal which involves us the present day; there is no time to stand still. The time has come, when necessities calls us aloud for our exertions, to prepare ourselves for the great events which are heaving into view…. Yes, brethren, let a theme of praise and thanksgiving to God, thrill through every heart, in silent accents; for the sunbeams of Liberty are casting forth their glorious rays through the eastern hemisphere; and we may rationally entertain the hope, that God, in his wise providence, will cause this glorious sun to arise to its meridian, and burst those fetters with which we are bound, and unlock the prison doors of prejudice; granting us Liberty to enjoy the blessings of life like other men.”[2]

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