background

Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Faculty Attitudes Toward Abolitionism and Race

In 1836, a newly enrolled student at Dartmouth College named Oren B. Cheney accepted an invitation to teach at a small school in Canaan, New Hampshire.[1] Only a few weeks earlier a beautiful academy building had sat next to the schoolhouse, but “news having spread that ‘niggers’ were attending this academy, some of the townspeople at night, with their oxen drew the building a mile away and left it in a swamp” so that, according to the culprits, “no sable son of Africa remains to darken our horizon. The abolition monster… is sent headlong to perdition.”[2] In the face of this hostile atmosphere, Cheney continued teaching at the school and, courageously, let his anti-slavery principles be known to the community.[3] Luckily, Cheney was not assaulted by his opponents in the town and went on to found Bates College.

This short story suggests the kind of the heated environment that New England educators, including Bates’ founders and early faculty, found themselves in during the antebellum and Civil War eras. Abolitionist sentiments were despised by some groups of New Englanders as seen by Cheney’s story. This chapter will explore the extent to which Bates’ founders and early faculty were involved in the anti-slavery controversy, particularly looking at the degree to which they were personally supporters of the radical abolitionist movement and of general racial equality. It concludes that these individuals were indeed relatively progressive in regard to their views on race and abolitionism. These conclusions rest on a variety of evidence including diaries, letters, articles and other writings that either expressed sympathy with the well known abolitionists of the day; mentioned direct connections to the abolitionist movement; or reflected individual attitudes and actions about race and the anti-slavery movement. Based on this material President Cheney appears to have been a more outspoken supporter of the abolitionist movement than many of his peers (although they generally supported the movement), but faculty attitudes (Cheney included) regarding actual racial equality were somewhat ambiguous.

Oren Cheney and other early faculty are often labeled as abolitionists in both contemporary and later writings, but the meaning of this term can be extremely broad. It has been inclusive enough to embrace everyone from supporters of black colonization in Africa to Garrisonian abolitionists who called for an immediate end to slavery. David B. Davis, a historian from Yale, writes “immediatism suggested a repudiation of the various media, such as colonization or apprenticeship, that had been advocated as remedies for the evils of slavery.”[4]For this thesis, immediatism (calling for an immediate, uncompensated end to slavery) shall serve as the most progressive form of abolitionism.

Indeed, the evidence implies that Oren Cheney was a fervent immediatist abolitionist, and many early faculty members at Bates College also held abolitionist views or supported “abolitionist” political candidates. This fact does not necessarily indicate that these individuals were radicals in their thinking about racial equality or for that matter that they were rabid racists. Historian Herbert Aptheker is correct in claiming “the position of the Abolitionists themselves in the matter of racial equality was, at best ambivalent.”[5] Clearly, abolitionists held a wide range of beliefs about race, which is not particularly shocking considering the broadness of the movement.

James McPherson, a historian at Princeton, concludes that some abolitionists, which Aptheker mentions, saw themselves as helping African Americans, yet these individuals often displayed paternalism toward African Americans. McPherson discusses the racial views of white abolitionist educators, claiming:

Most of the northern educators were not racists, at least not consciously; they were culturalists… In this faith that blacks were capable of cultural assimilation as equals, the missionaries departed radically from the established wisdom of the age. It is of course arguable that cultural paternalism and racism are the same thing. But such a notion would have been foreign to the champions of both racial equality and white supremacy a century ago.[6]

From a twenty-first century perspective, this line between racism and paternalism is hard to distinguish. As McPherson points out, almost no one in mid-nineteenth century America would have put cultural paternalists and vocal white supremacists into the same category as racists. The two groups were often seen as opposites, regardless of any similarities between them. Abolitionists such as Cheney and the early faculty of Bates certainly did not see themselves as vocal advocates of white supremacy, but they often voiced opinions that nevertheless may have reflected racial paternalism. McPherson claims that the white “belief that hard work, thrift, piety, and respectability would win prosperity and respect for the Negro is now viewed by some as at best naïve and patronizing, at worst reactionary and racist.”[7] Indeed, certain attitudes expressed by early Bates founders and faculty tend to fall somewhere into this spectrum, although closer to the radical commitment to racial equality side than not.

Bates founder, Oren B. Cheney, is undoubtedly the most important figure in the early years of the school, and Emeline Cheney’s The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney is the most important source in understanding Cheney. Because of the book’s prominence, its historical accuracy must be examined. Although Cheney kept a diary throughout most of his adult life, only his diary from 1864 appears to have survived. While writing Bates College and its Background in 1936, Professor Alfred Anthony searched for Cheney’s missing diaries, writing that “[r]elatives and friends on both sides of the family have been appealed to, all pertinent and suggested clues have been followed up, without discovering a trace of the lost material.”[8] Fortunately, Cheney’s third wife, Emeline (they married when he was 75 years old),[9] wrote The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney in 1907, and she directly cited from “at least eleven of them [his diaries], for the years 1846, 1854, 1860, 1861, 1867, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1883 and 1886.”[10] It is impossible to know if Emeline Cheney cited these diaries accurately or if she did so simply to cast her husband in the most favorable light possible. As she put it, “Foibles? Yes, he had them for he was human… But considering that, during twelve years of closest relations, the writer never once heard him refer to a fault in any member of his family, brothers, sisters, children or grandchildren, and seldom in anyone, we accord him the same gracious silence.”[11] Other than her silence in regard to some of Cheney’s minor “foibles,” Emeline Cheney’s writing suggests that she cited fairly accurately. For example, her citation of the Lewiston Evening Journal on page 303 is exactly reproduced, as the December 22, 1903 edition of the Journal can attest. Furthermore, while Dr. Cheney was alive and with his assistance, Emeline Cheney wrote “a series of reminiscences, fourteen or fifteen of which have appeared in The Morning Star.”[12] These stories about Cheney’s early life are nearly exactly reproduced in her later book, providing addition evidence of the historical accuracy of her work, considering these articles were published with Cheney’s input while he was alive. Because of the depth of information in her book, the seeming historical veracity, and the author’s exclusive access to Cheney’s writings, I frequently cite Mrs. Cheney’s book in piecing together her husband’s background.

President Cheney’s views on slavery and race during the mid-nineteenth century were primarily molded during his childhood and adolescence. Cheney’s father, Deacon Moses Cheney, was a conductor on the Underground Railroad helping “flying fugitives on their way to liberty,” and he also was the original printer for the Morning Star, a Freewill Baptist newspaper, which expressed anti-slavery views.[13] The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration reported that Moses Cheney operated a station on the Underground Railroad at his home in Peterborough, New Hampshire from 1835 to 1845, and “from here one of the Cheney boys [possibly Oren] would guide fugitives up Windy Row… to their next stop at Hancock. Frederick Douglass was a houseguest when he was in Peterborough to speak at a meeting of the New England Antislavery Society…in 1840.”[14] Oren Cheney clearly had strong abolitionist influences at home.

Furthermore, these influences continued at the institutions that Cheney was affiliated with. He was educated at New Hampton Academy and the Parsonfield Seminary in Maine, which were run by the Free Baptists and had notable abolitionist connections. Cheney then enrolled at Brown University in 1835 and became active in the abolitionist movement there, attending several rallies.[15] After a term at Brown, Cheney transferred to Dartmouth because “anti-slavery sentiments were allowed more freedom of expression than at Brown.”[16] While a student at Dartmouth in the 1830s, Cheney reportedly claimed publicly, “I am an abolitionist.”[17] After graduation in 1839, Cheney worked in New Hampshire and Maine over the next few years as principal of Farmington Academy, Stratfford Academy, Greenland Academy, Lebanon Academy, and Parsonfield Seminary, and apparently continued expressing his abolitionist views at all of these institutions. [18] For example, Cheney ran:

[a] branch of the underground railroad through Parsonsfield and thence to the Canadian border. One day the station keeper in Effingham brought to Mr. Cheney’s home in Parsonsfield a woman and two children, fugitives from slavery. He sheltered and fed them, then arranged for them to meet parents as well as children at his school. Here the mother showed the branded marks on her children’s shoulders and other indications of cruelty. They were sweet singers and as they sang their weird songs with much pathos in word and tone, all were moved to tears and the sentiment of the community was so changed that Mr. Cheney afterward found few objectors to his anti-slavery utterances.[19]

Cheney certainly sympathized with the runaway slaves regardless of whether he viewed them as equals. The Bicentennial Administration report supported the veracity of this story, reporting that “Oren Burbank Cheney like his father, had an active anti-slavery record… between 1843 and 1845, he operated a branch of the Underground Railroad that extended from Portland, Maine to Effingham, New Hampshire.”[20]

After five years of teaching, Cheney was ordained as a minister in the Free Will Baptist Church. At this period the Free Will Baptist church ardently opposed slavery, and “in 1839 it took the step, virtually unprecedented at the time, of severing connections with communions that included slaveholders in their fellowships.”[21] The Free Will Baptists’ only serious rivals in terms of ardent opposition to slavery were likely the Quakers, who first became involved in the abolitionist movement in the 1700s.[22] Cheney’s views undoubtedly mirrored the anti-slavery stance of his denomination.

After preaching in Free Baptist pulpits and teaching for several more years, Cheney was elected to serve in the Maine House of Representatives for the term of 1851-1852 by a combination of the Free Soil, Whig, and Independent party voters.[23] As a Free Soil legislator and a delegate to the 1852 Free Soil Convention, it can be inferred that his central political views somewhat coincided with this party’s platform of opposing the expansion of slavery.

After serving as a legislator in Augusta, Cheney became a pastor at the Free Baptist church in that city. While in the capital, Cheney also became an editor for the Morning Star in October 1853, and he frequently expressed his anti-slavery views through this medium. In his first article as an editor in 1853 Cheney commented on the institution of slavery. His opinions correspond to his other later writings and actions:

We shall speak against slavery, as we have hitherto done. We can find no language that has power to express the hatred we have towards so vile and so wicked an institution—We hate it—we abhor it, we loathe it—we detest and despise it as a giant sin against God, and an awful crime upon man. Thus we feel ourself, and thus we teach our children to feel, and dying we will teach them so.[24]

This excerpt from Cheney’s “Salutatory” article seemed indicative of Cheney’s views on abolitionism during the antebellum years. Cheney clearly had a visceral loathing for slavery at the time that Bates was founded.

Cheney’s personal relationships included nearly all of the most prominent abolitionists and anti-slavery advocates of the mid-nineteenth century. According to Emeline Cheney, his friends and acquaintances included Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Henry Ward Beecher, Wendell Phillips, and George Thompson. The only abolitionist references in Cheney’s 1864 diary were references to anti-slavery speakers to whom he enjoyed listening.[25] The previous year (1863) Cheney had served as president of the Freewill Baptist Anti-Slavery society, so apparently he remained involved with the abolitionist movement until the last years of American slavery.[26]

One of Cheney’s abolitionist friends was Senator Charles Sumner, who later impacted Bates College’s history. Cheney’s “political relations with the Hon. Charles Sumner”[27] are significant because the Massachusetts senator was among the most radical members of the U.S. Senate in regard to ending slavery and pushing for equal rights for African Americans. As early as the 1840s Sumner had argued for such controversial topics as integrated schools, claiming that “[b]lack children had a right to equality and that must mean that they ‘have an equal right with white children to the public schools.’”[28] Sumner gained fame for being beaten nearly to death by a southern Congressman on the floor of the U. S. Senate because of his abolitionist views. It was Charles Sumner who received the honor from Cheney of naming a motto for Bates. Sumner wrote a letter to Cheney in 1857 suggesting:

Amore ac Studio [with love for learning]. I cannot send anything better than these words for the seal of your Institution. I once thought to have them cut on a seal of my own, but did not.[29]

The College later acquired a collection of Sumner materials including the chair he was allegedly sitting in when attacked, and it is currently used for Bates’ presidential inaugurations.[30] This chair and the motto continue to serve as symbolic reminders of Bates College’s abolitionist past, and Cheney’s connection to the larger abolitionist movement. Because of Cheney’s admiration for Sumner, it is probable that his views on slavery (abolitionism) and race coincided somewhat with Sumner’s own fairly radical ones.

The legendary abolitionist history of Oren Cheney seems almost perfectly righteous by contemporary standards, yet contradictions lie beneath the surface of this idealistic portrait. A quotation by Senator Sumner describes one such contradiction. Sumner asserted that there was “unholy union… between the cotton planters and fleshmongers of Louisiana and Mississippi and the cotton spinners and traffickers of New England-between the lords of the lash and the lords of the loom.”[31] Sumner’s words pointed out the fact that northern textile industrialists were as much to blame as Southern slave owners because they were allowing slavery to thrive. Among the ranks of these textile industrialists was Benjamin Bates, from whom Oren Cheney obtained substantial funding for the College.[32] It is ironic that an ardent abolitionist such as Cheney obtained funding for the College from someone who profited handsomely from manufacturing products out of cotton produced with slave labor. This irony is not meant to suggest that Benjamin Bates favored slavery or that Oren Cheney was any less noble for accepting funding from a textile magnate. Perhaps this contradiction speaks more to the omnipresence of the slave system in American economy than to Cheney’s own shortcomings.

President Cheney was not only a vehement supporter of abolitionism, but to some degree at least, also a supporter of civil rights for African Americans (although his motives were sometimes questionable). Cheney’s long friendship with Frederick Douglass epitomizes his fairly progressive stance on race. According to the Bates Student Cheney welcomed Douglass into his home on several occasions, as well as all of “the then despised advocates of the anti-slavery cause, Austen Willey, Fred. Douglass, Henry Wilson, Sojourner Truth, and Frances Watkins.”[33] By allowing abolitionists and particularly black abolitionists to stay at his home in Maine, Cheney was clearly making a stance about racial boundaries.

Cheney also directly rebelled against these predominant race relations in his friendship with Douglass. One of the most telling events in this regard occurred after Cheney had been elected as a delegate to the Free Soil Party Convention in Pittsburgh in 1852.[34] Along the journey to the Convention, Cheney apparently stopped at various points and met with other delegates. One of the most notable meetings on this trip was in Alliance, Ohio, where Cheney met up with Frederick Douglass.[35] As Cheney, Douglass, and the rest of their party entered a dining hall that evening, the owner of the restaurant noticed Douglass and told the group, “the nigger must not come in.”[36] This remark outraged Cheney and the other Free Soil delegates, and they decided that if Douglass could not eat at the establishment, then none of the delegates would eat.[37] Fearing a loss of business, the owner finally backed down. This situation seems to be representative of the anti-racist position, which Cheney consistently held throughout his life. In his later years, when Cheney was traveling in 1895, he heard of Douglass’s death and “easily obtained tickets for the church and the attendance at the funeral was a never-to-be forgotten privilege.”[38] At the funeral no one purportedly “rendered a more heart tribute than Dr. Cheney,” who claimed, “God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men.’”[39] It is not clear if Cheney was invited by the family to speak at the funeral or if he said these words privately, but this statement is telling. Cheney clearly felt that there was a divine unity among all people regardless of race. Cheney’s progressive belief about racial equality linked him with some of the most influential abolitionist leaders of the day, such as Douglass.

Cheney’s concern with African American freedom and justice did not end with Emancipation. He was also particularly concerned about the millions of freed slaves after the Civil War. According to Emeline Cheney, President Cheney was in Washington when Lee surrendered and he went to Richmond where he talked with Confederate prisoners and freed slaves.[40] According to Emeline Cheney, Oren Cheney asked himself:

What is to be done with, and for the Freedmen, hundreds of whom are flocking northward?’ His interest in the race had grown, when at different times in Washington and its vicinity he had attended the churches of the colored people, had studied their characteristics and thought about their possibilities.[41]

It is apparent that Cheney thought deeply about African Americans in the United States during that period, although Cheney’s assertion about “what is to be done with” the freed slaves rings of a sort of white paternalism and deculturization that McPherson claims, “are now regarded in many quarters as negative educational achievements, a form of cultural genocide.”[42] Although Cheney’s attempt to assist the African American refugees appears to have been benevolent, it was possibly misguided. Furthermore, if Emeline Cheney’s writing is accurate, President Cheney’s studying of “their characteristics” implies a kind of objectification of African Americans or elitist view of their “distinctive” culture or character. Cheney later acted upon this benevolent feeling when he raised the initial funding for Storer College, for freed slaves, in Harpers-Ferry, West Virginia.[43] Cheney’s devotion to providing educational opportunities for African Americans is admirable regardless of any paternalistic motives, and his actions (taking an active part in Storer College) are impressive considering the number of activities with which he was involved throughout his life in addition to being President of Bates College.

As president of Bates, Cheney played a major role in recruiting scores of early trustees of the College (Benjamin Bates included). These trustees largely shared Cheney’s abolitionist views. Early trustees such as A.K. Moulton, a Freewill Baptist pastor, voiced their concerns about the slave system. Before becoming involved with Bates College, Moulton published a pamphlet in 1848 titled “A Peep at the Peculiar Institution with Hints as to the Duty of Northern Christians.” In this pamphlet Moulton enumerated the various reasons why the slave system was inherently evil. He recognized the major Southern arguments for slavery and refuted them individually. Moulton’s arguments were largely based on appealing to the Christian values of the audience and motivating the audience to oppose the government’s brutal support of the slave system. Moulton claimed that the government,

takes the people’s money to build jails in which to imprison northern colored citizens, and to be occupied by soul-drivers to herd their droves of human cattle in, when they bring them to the great slave mart, the city of Washington, to be sold at public auction under the shadow of our national flag.[44]

This argument against government approval of slavery was pleading to the conscience of his audience. Moulton’s public attempt at persuasion through this pamphlet hints that his views on slavery were radical, progressive, and ardent. In many ways his abolitionist views seemed to parallel Cheney’s, which is not surprising considering they were both Free Will Baptist clergymen and friends.

Reverend Moulton also expressed a fairly progressive view towards ideas about race in general in his pamphlet. Moulton criticized Southern justifications for the enslavement of African Americans. In particular Moulton claimed that Southern arguments asserting that blacks were not human and of inferior intelligence were not sound.[45] Moulton blamed Southern slaveholders for the oppression of blacks and the limitation of their education, and therefore pointed the finger at environment and not innate racial differences for the disparity between whites and African Americans. Moulton claimed that the predominant attitude was un-Christian and “whatever else we may be, God helping us, we will be Christians.”[46] Moulton believed that slaves were humans and could become Christians; therefore, they deserved equal treatment as such. Moulton was also particularly disgusted at the Federal Government because it “takes the people’s money to build jails in which to imprison northern colored citizens.”[47] Reverend Moulton argued that these northern people of color deserve the same equal rights and protection under the law that white citizens faced.

Another trustee, Reverend Samuel B. Tufts, held similar views to Moulton and Cheney on slavery. Tufts served as a trustee of Bates College from 1863 to 1868 and preached about his views on slavery in a sermon from 1859 titled “Slavery and the Death of John Brown.” In this essay Rev. Tufts extolled John Brown for his attacks on those who were perceived as supporting the slave system in Kansas and Harper’s Ferry. Tufts believed that John Brown “died a martyr—a hero, moral, religious and liberty loving.”[48] By celebrating John Brown as a martyr rather than a criminal or lunatic, Tufts was asserting his views not only on John Brown but also on slavery. John Brown was fighting for the abrupt end to the immoral slave system, and it can be inferred that Tufts supported Brown’s cause. While Tufts glorified Brown, he dehumanized slaveholders. Tufts describes Brown’s slaveholding adversaries in Kansas as “hordes of villains, indescribable and fiendish with appearance more repulsive than Gibeonstish poverty, and hearts more savage than Vandal hordes”[49] Tufts blatantly vilified his political opposites and went on to claim that because of these villains “families were dispersed-fathers murdered-mothers inhumanely and namelessly abused and murdered-maidens indecently exposed and carried into captivity.”[50] By outwardly expressing his extreme partisanship in battle over slavery, Tufts was labeling himself as a proponent of the immediatist anti-slavery movement. Tufts was much more radical than politicians such as President Lincoln who disagreed with Brown’s raid in Harper’s Ferry. According to historian Allen Guelzo, “Lincoln publicly condemned Brown.”[51] In contrast to Lincoln, Tufts, Moulton, and Cheney seem to have shared a particularly passionate form of abolitionism.

Although this passionate form of abolitionism was probably prevalent among the other trustees, it is difficult to verify this assumption because less archival information exists about other trustees. Trustees such as Moulton and Tufts were probably more active in the day-to-day life of the college than celebrity trustees who were often in Washington D.C., such as Senator William Frye, Governor Nelson Dingley, and Secretary of State James Blaine, who “permitted his name to be used as a Trustee of the Institution for thirty years, from 1863 to 1893.”[52] (Governor Garcelon is a notable exception, as he was very involved with the College). Although famous politicians may have technically served as trustees of the College, the more active shapers of the institution were likely Cheney and other local Free Baptist trustees such as Reverend Moulton and Reverend Tufts. Large numbers of early trustees were Free Will Baptist pastors, because it was “clearly understood that the rightful owners of the institution were Free Baptists.”[53] Of the original 50 members of the College’s Board of Trustees in 1863, 28 were ministers (almost entirely Free Will Baptists).[54]Free Will Baptist attitudes on abolitionism were likely reflected by these pastors, who made up the majority of the Board.

Early faculty members at Bates were also largely opposed to slavery, but often with seemingly less ardor than Cheney and other abolitionist trustees. In Bates College and its Background, Anthony describes how “Levi W. Stanton, ‘Uncle Johnny’ Stanton, Professor Stanley, Professor Hayes, Professor Angell and Professor Rand were ‘the old guard;’ they were the teachers who gave instruction and made the College…an educational institution of a high order.”[55]Of these six core professors, Angell, Hayes and Stanley wrote diaries, which have survived and hint at the early faculty’s views on race and abolitionism.

Thomas Angell, a professor of language and literature at Bates from 1869 to 1903, kept a diary throughout much of his life, in which he discussed his political views. In 1859, before coming to Bates, Angell wrote that he “attended a Republican meeting”[56] while a student at Brown, and he later frequently stressed his approval of Abraham Lincoln. In 1860 Angell wrote that he “heard the Hon. Abraham Lincoln make a splendid address” and “all of his arguments were so sound and fair that no one could refute them”[57] Furthermore, Angell’s scrapbook contained a receipt for his ballot cast during the 1860 election for President Abraham Lincoln. Historian Allen Guelzo claims that Lincoln “was not enough moved by American slavery’s singular injustice to its African captives to call for their immediate emancipation.”[58] Although Lincoln may not have been an abolitionist, he was in his own words “might near one,” and perhaps Thomas Angell was mighty near one as well, as he was obviously an ardent supporter of Lincoln.[59] Other newspaper clippings in Angell’s scrapbook also hinted at his political views. An article, which expressed concern over the recent Dred Scott decision, is included in the scrapbook, and another article about the fall of Fort Sumter is pasted nearby. Angell also included several humorous articles about a character named Artemus Ward. One article described how Ward was driven out of the South by violent, whiskey drinking “seseshers” who wanted to “hang the bald-headed aberlitionist [sic.].”[60] Clearly Angell was a partisan in the debate over slavery as seen by his preference in newspaper articles and political candidates.

Although Angell was certainly a supporter of the early Republican Party and Lincoln, he seldom mentioned slavery directly in his diary. He seemed to agree more with Lincoln’s fairly moderate even conservative anti-slavery views than immediatist abolitionist views of Oren Cheney. Angell did not enlist in the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the Civil War after being dissuaded by his father from enlisting, and instead Angell finished his studies at Brown.[61] In 1862 he joined the Rhode Island militia, which apparently was stationed in Rhode Island during the War.[62] Angell seemed less determined to enlist and fight than many of his peers. Angell also seemed to be less vocal an abolitionist as Cheney and the trustees at Bates, although he was a Free Will Baptist and must have at least nominally supported the abolitionist movement.

Other faculty members such as Benjamin F. Hayes shared similar views to Angell. Hayes was a Freewill Baptist minister, and from 1865 to 1906 he taught modern languages, rhetoric, literature, philosophy, science, and theology at Bates College.[63] Hayes’ sporadic journal entries from the 1850s through the 1870s recorded several references to slavery. Hayes’ references to slavery were largely retellings of notable stories he heard and striking articles he read, and did not directly state his own personal opinions. In one story, Hayes described how:

[o]ne Capt. [f]rom Maine was imprisoned in Williamsburg, N.C. because a Negro who had free papers had been hired aboard his ship. The papers were pronounced stolen, and the Capt. was only released after a tedious lawsuit at a cost of $2000. Capt. Carr of Maine also was imprisoned for a like accident and having less money-died in jail![64]

Because Hayes recorded this story it is likely that he thought it particularly poignant. It is interesting that Hayes’ stories tend to describe white victims of the slave system, such as the two ship captains mentioned above, rather than brutality towards the actual slaves. Perhaps it was easier for Hayes to empathize with white victims rather than black ones. This attitude was often typical among white audiences in the nineteenth century as Allen Guelzo reports, even Abraham Lincoln “when he spoke against slavery, he was speaking against the institution, and not necessarily for its black victims.”[65] The stories in Hayes’ diary may indeed reflect some of this mainstream white, nineteenth century viewpoint.

Hayes’ journal also contains a loose piece of paper with a note and a red piece of cloth attached to it. The note claims “This is a piece of the flag which was raised over the mansion house in Alexandria by Col. E. E. Ellsworth just before his assassination.”[66] Colonel Ellsworth was celebrated as the first conspicuous casualty of the Civil War, and he was shot while removing a Confederate flag from a tavern in Alexandria in May 1861.[67] It is unclear how this relic came to be owned by Prof. Hayes, but his ownership suggests that he may have felt strongly about the cause for which Ellsworth died, which was the support of the union of the United States, not to end slavery. Ending slavery was not a primary reason for fighting the War until Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which “[w]hen issued it was… hailed as an epoch making revolutionary document, as a clarion call for human freedom.”[68] Therefore, if Hayes truly supported Ellsworth’s cause, he may have been a stronger supporter of the Union than of simply the abolitionist movement.

Professor Benjamin Hayes also addressed the broader issue of race in his journal. Hayes wrote about the unity of the races claiming:

No characteristics have yet been found by which mankind can be classified distinctly into races. And with all the differences of color, hair, and skull or language which now suffice for purpose of nomenclature it remains true that there is nothing to choose between the hypothesis that we constitute only one species and that we constitute several… we may believe that the genus homo is ‘made of one blood.’[69]

This statement hints that Hayes may not have believed in superiority or inferiority based strictly on race. Throughout his notes in the journal, Hayes dismissed the idea of scientifically distinct races. Although Hayes’ reasons for supporting the War seem ambiguous, he was relatively progressive on his ideas about the construction of race. He believed that people show prejudice mainly because “they refuse to be conversant but with one sort of men, books, notions.”[70] Professor Hayes also discounts pseudo-sciences such as phrenology, which justify racism, as having “absolutely no foundation in facts.”[71] In his writing, Reverend Hayes was among the most outspoken of the early Bates faculty in claiming that there was no valid scientific or social justification for racism. In his call for a unity of the races, Hayes was not simply asserting that blacks and whites should be separate but equal, but actually be united as humans.

Another Bates professor, Richard C. Stanley, expressed views that were visibly supportive of the abolitionist movement as well. Although Professor Stanley did not mention taking an active role in the abolitionist movement himself, he did mention his feelings on the issue. While in New York City, Stanley wrote about attending sermons by Henry Ward Beecher and George Thompson about the evils of slavery. [72] Stanley eventually professed that “only a constitutional amendment forever prohibiting slavery will work its ruin”[73] After going to Washington D.C. as a delegate to the Sanitary Commission, Prof. Stanley continued to express his political sentiments in his diary.[74] Stanley celebrated seeing Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner in Congress, and he labeled other politicians such as Wood and Brooks as “the last of the notorious Copperheads.”[75] Stanley also rejoiced after he “received a polite bow” from President Lincoln.[76] Even though Professor Stanley may not have been an active abolitionist, he certainly related to the radical Republicans and supporters of the abolitionist movement. Stanley probably held similar opinions to this group of legislators.

Professor Charles Stanley also seemed fairly progressive in his views on race relations. While in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War, Stanley wrote that he “stepped into a Negro prayer meeting.”[77] Stanley seemed to enjoy joining this group, although this seems like his first time doing so, and it is possible that this was more of a spectacle than a means of worship. Other than this instance, Stanley rarely mentioned African Americans in his diary except indirectly when he spoke of the radical Republican politicians whom he supported, such as Thaddeus Stevens.[78] By Stanley’s willingness to worship with African Americans, he was either expressing some level of acceptance or simply observing what he deemed to be a curiosity. Stanley did not mention performing any overt actions in support of African American civil rights, and his record on race relations seems relatively ambiguous.

The racial attitudes of the founders and early faculty of Bates were generally tolerant toward African Americans compared to the mainstream attitude of the era. All of the early administrators, trustees, and faculty discussed in this chapter appeared supportive of the abolitionist movement although in varying degrees. Nearly all of the people discussed in this chapter were Free Will Baptists and general supporters of the policies of the mid-nineteenth century Republican Party. Some faculty outwardly expressed their affirmative views on racial equality, while others were relatively silent on that topic. As a group these people seem largely representative of the fifty or so trustees, and half a dozen other major faculty members who were at the institution during the 1850s through the 1870s. Although Cheney appears to have been the most ardent abolitionist (regardless of certain contradictions), other faculty undoubtedly supported the abolitionist movement. While Cheney and his peers sought to improve the lives and education of African Americans, they sometimes showed paternalistic feelings towards these same individuals. Although from a 21st century perspective this attitude often seems limited, it was likely a relatively progressive approach considering the intellectual mainstream of the day.


[1] Emeline Cheney. The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney (Boston: Morning Star Publishing, 1907), 32.

[2] Emeline Cheney, 32-33.

[3] Emeline Cheney, 34.

[4] John R. McKivigan, History of the American Abolitionist Movement: A Bibliography of Scholarly Articles (New York: Garland Publishing, 1999), 1.

[5] Herbert Aptheker, Anti-Racism in U.S. History: The First Two Hundred Years (Westport, CT: Praeger: 1993), 6.

[6] James M. McPherson, The Abolitionist Legacy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975), 201.

[7] McPherson, 200.

[8] Anthony, 162.

[9] Emeline Cheney, 249.

[10] Anthony, 162.

[11] Emeline Cheney, 269.

[12] Alfred Williams Anthony, Lewiston Evening Journal, January 28, 1904, 4.

[13] Emeline Cheney, 4-9.

[14] The Underground Railroad in New England (American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, 1976) 17-18.

[15] Emeline Cheney, 32.

[16] Emeline Cheney, 45.

[17] Emeline Cheney, 34.

[18] Emeline Cheney, 45-48.

[19] Emeline Cheney, 48.

[20] Underground, 18.

[21] Underground, 18.

[22] Thomas D. Hamm, Church History, December 1994, Volume 63, Issue 4, 557-567.

[23] Emeline Cheney, 48-73.

[24] Oren Cheney, “Salutatory,” Morning Star, 5 October 1853, 1, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections, Bates College (hereafter referred to as MASC)..

[25] Emeline Cheney, 97-180; and Oren B. Cheney, Papers of Oren B. Cheney, Box 1, folder “Diary from 1864,” MASC.

[26] Burgess, G.A. and J.T. Ward, Free Baptist Cyclopedia (Chicago: Free Baptist Cylcopedia Co., 1889), 21, MASC.

[27] Emeline Cheney, 97.

[28] Aptheker, 157.

[29] Emeline Cheney, 97-98.

[30] Miscellaneous Box of Charles Sumner materials at Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Folder: “Material Relating to the Sumner Chair,” MASC.

[31] Thomas Dublin, Lowell: The Story of an Industrial City (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1992), 20.

[32] Bates College Catalog 2004-2006 (Lewiston, ME: Bates College, 2004), 5-6.

[33] C.F. Penny, “Her Work in Augusta,” Bates Student, June 1886, 140, MASC.

[34] Emeline Cheney, 149.

[35] Emeline Cheney, 149- 150.

[36] Emeline Cheney, 150.

[37] Emeline Cheney, 150.

[38] Emeline Cheney 257-258.

[39] Emeline Cheney, 258.

[40] Emeline Cheney, 151.

[41] Emeline Cheney, 151.

[42] McPherson, 200.

[43] Emeline Cheney, 162.

[44] A.K. Moulton, A Peep at the Peculiar Institution with Hints as to the Duty of Northern Christians and Citizens (Dover, NH: William Burr Printing, 1848), 15, MASC.

[45] Moulton, 1-12.

[46] Moulton, 20.

[47] Moulton, 15.

[48] Samuel N. Tufts, A Sermon: Slavery and the Death of John Brown (Lewiston, ME: Journal Office, 1859), 19, MASC.

[49] Tufts, 17.

[50] Tufts, 17.

[51] Guelzo, 16.

[52] Anthony, 127.

[53] Anthony, 178.

[54] Catalogue of Bates College 1863 (Lewiston, ME: Journal Office, 1867), 3-4, and Eaton, 4-13, MASC.

[55] Anthony, 259.

[56] Thomas Angell, The Thomas Angell Papers, Box 1, Folder “Thomas Angell Diary Jan. 1, 1859- July 20, 1866,” April 4, 1859, MASC.

[57]Angell, February 28, 1860.

[58] Allen C. Guelzo, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2004), 22.

[59] Guelzo, 22.

[60] Richard C. Stanley, Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Box 1, folder “Richard C. Stanley Scrapbook,” MASC.

[61] Angell, 271.

[62] Angell, 271

[63] Anthony, 255-257.

[64] Benjamin F. Hayes, Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Box 1, folder: B.F. Hayes Journal, “Slavery,” MASC.

[65] Guelzo, 23.

[66] Benjamin F. Hayes, Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Box 1, folder: B.F. Hayes Journal, (loose paper in journal), MASC.

[67] Bell I. Wiley, “Southern Reaction to Federal Invasion,” The Journal of Southern History, November 1950, 491.

[68] Mark M. Krug, “The Republican Party and the Emancipation Proclamation,” The Journal of Negro, History, April 1963, 98.

[69] Hayes, “Races.”

[70] Hayes, “Prejudice.”

[71] Hayes, “Phrenology.”

[72] Richard C. Stanley, Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Box 1, folder “Richard C. Stanley,” 11, MASC.

[73] Stanley, 47.

[74] Stanley, 110.

[75] Stanley, 116.

[76] Stanley, 175.

[77] Stanley, 114.

[78] Stanley, 116.