The Slave’s Friend, #1 (April 1835)

Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, The Slave’s Friend had a spotty distribution: few were sold, but copies were mailed to selected individuals or scattered through public places to be read. (See John R. Edson’s essay on the magazine in Children’s Periodicals of the United States for more information.) The magazine was microfilmed in 1978 by Greenwood Press; the issue here is presented in its entirety.

This monthly magazine contained poetry and articles that were pro-Christianity and anti-slavery, with two or three woodcuts per issue. Illustrations are fairly generic and sometimes were used in several issues. The Slave’s Friend is an inviting little pocketful, 4.5 by 2.75 inches. Two page numbers on each page indicate that each volume was continuously paginated.

The first issue established a number of motifs explored during the magazine’s history: appeals to young readers’ empathy and sense of fairness, Biblical injunctions against slavery, pleas against racism, models for young readers to emulate. Hannah More’s “The Noble Negro” was reprinted in several other periodicals, including The Youth’s Magazine, in Cincinnati, in 1837. Unfortunately, my copy lacks the first cover, which means that pieces that appeared on the inside front cover are missing. The paragraph describing the purpose of the magazine appeared in several issues the first year.

[front cover missing]

[p. 1]



NO. I.

white man with whip stands over 3 frightened slaves


“Give me money, Papa,” said little Anna, as her father held her in his arms before the fire-place.

What for, my dear? said her father.

“Give poor slave!” exclaimed the sweet girl.

p. 2

Anna saw a collection-box on the mantle, as her father held her up. It had the image of a female slave on it. She was kneeling at the foot of a cocoa-tree. Chains hung from her wrists, and were fastened to her ancles.

On the box were the following verses from the Bible.

Hebrews xiii. 3.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Jeremiah xxii. 16.

He judgeth the cause of the poor and the needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord.

Anna eagerly caught the bright six cents piece her father held out to her, and let it drop into the box.

“There!” said she: and as she heard it drop she laughed, and said, “poor slave-money.”

She was but a little more than two

p. 3

years old, but she had been taught to pity the poor slaves. When she was playing about the room she would sometimes stop, point up to the box, and say, “poor slave-money.”


Statistics! What in the world does that mean, father? said little George.

It means, my son, a collection of facts. And I will tell you some facts about slavery. There are about two millions and a quarter of slaves in this country. Just about as many as there were Israelites in Egypt when God brought them out of bondage under Moses. Or, as there were inhabitants in this country when our Independence was declared.

How many boys and girls do you suppose there are in slavery? asked George.

Why, I think there must be about three hundred and fifty- four thousand boys, and three hundred and forty-se-

p. 4

ven thousand girls, under ten years of age. They would fill the Masonic Hall in the City of New York, nearly 500 times. With their parents, and brothers and sisters, they would fill five cities as large as New York. If the little boys and girls only stood in rows of ten, they would reach forty miles! These are statistics, George.


Charles. Did you ever know, Papa, that slaves were sold by the pound before Mr. Birney wrote that letter?

Papa. Certainly I did. Did you never hear that before?

Charles. What, sell boys and girls, like Julia and me, as they do pigs and fish! Is it so, father? Tell us.

Papa. It is indeed true, my son. If you will look into Mr. Bourney’s book, Picture of Slavery, you will see some slaves weighing a little girl in a pair of scales.

Charles. How much will she weigh?

p. 5

Papa. I suppose about fifty pounds.

Charles. How much do they get a pound for the poor slaves?

Papa. Four dollars, and sometimes five: If that little girl weighed fifty pounds, and her master got four dollars a pound for her, she was sold for two hundred dollars.

Charles. Ah! That’s the reason they dont want to emancipate the slaves; they get so much money by selling them: Isn’t it so, father?


A small colored girl, who loved Jesus, and had read her Bible a good deal, one day gave proof that she considered it her duty to obey what the Saviour had said. She ran to her mother one morning, much pleased, showing some plums that a friend had given her. The mother said, “she was very kind, and has given you a great many.” “Yes,” said the child, “very kind indeed; and she gave more than these, but I have

p. 6

given some away.” The mother asked to whom she had given them? when the little girl replied, “I gave them to a white girl who pushes me off the sidewalk, and makes faces at me.” Upon being asked why she gave them to her, she answered, “Because I thought that would make her know that I wished to be kind to her, and she will not perhaps be unkind and rude to me any more.”


Genesis xl. 15.

Indeed I was stolen away out of the land. (Joseph to the Chief Butler.)

Proverbs xxi. 13.

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall also cry himself, but shall not be heard.

Exodus xxi. 16.

He that stealeth a man and selleth him; or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

p. 7

Acts xvii. 26.

(God) hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.

I John iii. 14.

He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death.

Exodus xx. 15.

Thou shalt not steal.

Exodus xx. 17.

Thou shalt not covet.

Isaiah i. 17.

Relieve the oppressed.


He was a good boy. Now, his father, Israel, loved Joseph, and he made him a coat of many colors. But his brothers hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him. After a while they went to feed their father’s flock of sheep a great way off. Israel then said to Joseph, go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flock and bring me word

p. 8

again. When Joseph came in sight of his brothers, they thought, at first, they would kill him, but as a company of Ishmaelites came along they said, come, and let us sell him. Then they sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver, who was carried into Egypt. Thus Joseph became a poor slave. He was sold by his own brothers. When his aged father heard that his darling boy was gone, he wept and mourned for his son many days. What cruel men! But no more cruel than men now-a-days are who sell their colored brothers and sisters. They are our brothers and sisters, for God is the father of us all. How many Josephs are sold every day in this country, and whipped by wicked men; how many fathers and mothers weep because they are parted with their dear children, to see them no more in this world. But slavers and slaves will all meet at the judgment seat of Christ. O, what a meeting that will be!

p. 9


In the Memoirs of Mrs. Hannah More, is the following interesting story.

One day a captain of a ship, at sea, went out of his own ship to dine on board another ship. While he was there, a storm arose, which, in a short time, made a wreck of his own ship, and it was impossible for him to return. The captain had left on board his ship two little boys, one four, the other five years old, under the care of a poor black servant. The sailors tried to get out of the sinking ship into a large boat. By this time the boat was quite full of people. As the black man was stepping into the boat he was told there was no room for him; that the boat could not take him and the little boys too, as so much weight would sink it. The heroic ne-

p. 10

gro did not hesitate a moment. “Very well,” said he “give my respects to my master, and tell him I am sorry for all my faults.” He then—O, guess the rest—sunk to the bottom of the ocean, never to rise again, till the sea shall give up her dead.


A poor colored boy was going by a church one day, and he asked the sexton if he wanted any help. Yes, said he, I should like to have you work for me to-day very well. So Richard went to work. At night he told the sexton he did not know where to go. He said he came from Philadelphia to see his aunt. But she had got married, and he did not know her name or where to find her. And on his way to this city, some wicked person had stolen all his money, and his recommendation too. If they had only left that, said Richard, I should not have cared so much for the money, for I could have

p. 11

earned more. But no one will hire me long without a recommendation. Poor boy! How cruelly many white people treat the colored people. The sexton gave him some supper, told him he might sleep in the church, on the carpet that was rolled up, and in the morning he would give him something to eat, and he would try to get him a place.

kneeling slave raises chained hands to heaven

Patrick Henry, the great orator of Virginia, said, If the slave be in chains, he droops and bows to the earth because his spirits are broken; but let him twist the fetters off his legs, and he will stand erect.

p. 12


I thank the goodness and the grace

Which on my birth have smiled,

And made me in my early days

A happy free-born child.

I was not born a little slave

To labor in the sun,

And wish that I were in the grave,

And all my labor done.

My God, I thank thee, who hast planned

A better lot for me,

And placed me in this happy land,

Where I may hear of Thee.

Now I will show that I am thankful. I will pity the poor slave. I will pray for him. I will save my money to give to the Anti- Slavery Society. I’ll try not to eat any sugar or other things that the slaves are compelled to grow. When I see little colored children, I will be kind to them. I will consider them as good as others who behave well. God makes no difference, and I will make none. I will try to feel towards the colored people just as God feels towards them. This will be right. My conscience tells me so. I’ll do it.

[cover p. 3; inside back cover]


There are two reasons why the slaveholders treat them so. They know it is wrong to make them work for nothing. Now when people are doing any thing wicked, they are apt to be cruel. A man will beat and abuse his horse, if he is riding to a horse race, much more than if he were ploughing.

Cattle were made to work for their masters. They do not refuse to do it. But coloured men and women know that they have the same right to work for themselves, and to have wages, as white people have. So they will not work for nothing unless they are obliged to. Thus the slave is trying to do as little work as possible, and the master is trying to make him work as hard as he can. This makes the slaveholders angry and cruel.

[cover p. 4; back cover]


The Collection Box, … 1

Statistics, … 3

Selling Slaves by the pound, … 4

The Good Little Girl, … 5

Texts on Slavery, … 6

Joseph, … 7

The Noble Negro, … 9

Little Richard, … 10

The Bond Slave, … 11

The Thankful Child, … 12


The Slave’s Friend is printed for children. The editor wants to have them love the poor slaves. He has tried to write this little book so that very young children can understand it. It is hoped that all the little boys and girls in the land may read it.


How should you like to be sold? How should you like to have your dear mother, or your darling little brother or sister, put up at auction and sold to the highest bidder. Would you be willing to see them driven away, so that you would never see them any more? No, No, you say. O, feel for the poor slaves then.

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