The Slave’s Friend, #5 (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 and is available digitally as part of the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.

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.

While the Friend often discussed issues of racism, few pieces are as overt as “Story of Poor Jack,” which explores the effect of a revolting racial epithet on the boy who hears it constantly—and includes the epithet itself seven times.

My copy features illustrations hand colored by an earlier owner. Since the copy is missing paper and text, I’ve filled in the gaps by checking the copy in the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals series 2. Added text appears in square brackets: []. The issue here is presented in its entirety.

Interestingly, while the covers of my copy and of the one in the American Antiquarian Society digital archive are the same, in AAS copy, the story “Cruelty” (cover page 3) is complete; mine has a space where the word “a” should be. (In the transcription, I’ve put the word in square brackets.) Either the covers or the complete issues were apparently reprinted.

The front cover for the first volume featured a white man teaching young black boys to read.

[cover p. 2; inside front cover]


No, little worm, thou need not slip

Into thy hole, with such a skip;

Drawing the gravel as thou glides,

On thy smooth and slimy sides.

I’m not a crow, poor worm, not I,

Peeping about thy holes to spy,

And fly away with thee in the air,

To give my little ones each a share.

No, and I’m not a rolling stone,

Creaking along with hollow groan;

Nor am I of the naughty crew,

Who don’t care what poor worms go through,

But trample on them as they lay,

Rather than step the other way.

For my part, I could never bear

Your tender flesh to hack and tear,

Forgetting that poor worms endure

As much as I should, to be sure,

If any giant should come and jump

Upon my back and kill me plump,

Or run my heart through with a scythe,

And think it fun to see me writhe!

Note. When the Bible would represent to us a person that is weak, mean, and despised in the world, it compares him to a worm of the earth[.]

[p. 1; p. 61]


NO. V.

3 white children sit in grass

One Saturday afternoon, when the school was not kept, James, Lucy and Edward, went to have a reading party. James had received a new book from New-York, and had told his brother and sister that if they got all the lessons their teachers required, he would read some pretty stories to them after dinner. See James, with his new book, reading aloud to Lucy and Edward. How pleasant they all look! This is the story he read to them.

p. 2; p. 62

At Washington city they often have auctions of human flesh. They sell men, women and children. A French lady was there last winter, and she wrote to her friends in Paris about these auctions. She said that one day it was advertized in the newspaper, that “three negroes of the first quality” would be sold to the highest bidder, with other articles, such as pots, pans, beds, chains, books, &c. One was Betsy, twenty-three years of age, with her child Cæsar, three years old, an excellent cook, washer and ironer, warranted healthy. Julia, a mulatto girl aged thirteen, robust and active, a good field laborer. Augustus, a lad, six years of age.

Betsy was put upon a table, and the crier stood upon a chair placed hear. “A woman for sale!” cried the seller of human flesh. “An excellent woman—not a fault! And a little boy in the bargain. How much for the mother and child?” $250 said one in the crowd. “Very well, sir, $250 to begin with;

p. 3; p. 63

some one has bid $250. Truly, gentlemen, they sell cattle for a larger price. Look at these eyes, examine these limbs, shall I say $260? She is the best cook, the best washer, and the best dress-maker in Virginia! Must I sell her for such a small price? Reflect upon it a little, and do not forget there is a little boy in the bargain.”

Here the auctioneer was interrupted by a man who said, “as for the child it is good for nothing; it is not worth a day’s food; and if I buy the mother I will give away the child very quick.” The poor mother sighed and looked very sad. The little innocent, which she held in her arms, fixed his large eyes upon her, as if saying, “Mamma, why do you weep?” The auctioneer continued, and finally the crier, striking a heavy blow with a hammer, said, “to Mr. A. for $360.”

The other slaves were sold in the same manner as poor Betsy. Julia was sold at $326, and Augustus at $105. All this

p. 4; p. 64

was done, said the French lady, in the United States, in the country where so much is done to distribute the Bible, and support missions. When will the Christians in America put an end to such horrid traffic?



Question. Of what color was Adam?

Answer. The color of red clay, I presume.

Q. Were all Adam’s children of the same color?

A. There is every reason to suppose they were.

Q. Of what color was Noah?

A. I suppose the same color as Adam.

Q. Were all Noah’s sons of the same color?

A. There is no doubt of it.

Q. Did not all men now living come from one or the other of Noah’s sons?

A. Yes; nobody denies that.

Q. How came people then to be of different colors now?

p. 5; p. 65

A. It is chiefly owing to the climate, that is, the places where they live. Africans live right under the sun, and they are black. Spaniards live further north, and they are lighter. Englishmen and Americans live still further north, and we are called white.

Q. The blood of all is alike, is it not?

A. Yes; the Bible says that; “And hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on the face of the earth.”



Many little children do not know what faith means. They read it in the Bible, and hear people speak about it. But it is all a riddle to them. Now I am going to explain it to you. It means believing just what God says. That is faith. I do not mean it is believing with the mind merely, but it is believing with the heart. It is wishing that what God says, may take place. Suppose a little boy, said Dr. Payson, is going through a wood in a dark evening with his

p. 6; p. 66

father. He is afraid; “Keep hold of my hand tight,” says his father. “I know the way; we shall get out of the wood soon.” The little boy believes what his father says, clings closer to his hand, and is not afraid of any thing. This is faith.

Now, dear children, there is trouble in the land. We hear of mobs, of murders, and of many wicked things. Some of your dear relations and friends are insulted and threatened, because they plead for the poor slave. Well, we must not be afraid. God is our heavenly Father, and we must cling close to his hand. He can lead us through safely.

“God is our refuge in distress; a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and are troubled, and though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”

“He that dwelleth in the secret place

p. 7; p. 67

of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in him will I trust[.] Surely he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler.”

“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

an open book


[Transcriber’s note: This part of the page was damaged in trimming; text in square brackets is from the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.]

“The other night, when G. was here he heard a great noise, got up, went out, and saw a weasel taking one of our little chickens away. It then came for the other. G. chased it away, and said he never saw a hen in so much distress[.”] So writes a litle [sic] girl, in the country, [to] her father in the city. Now, if a poor

p. 8; p. 68

hen feels so much distress when one of her little chickens is snatched away by a weasel, how must a woman feel when her darling baby is torn from her by slavers? They are MEN-WEASELS. But we must not hate them. We must pray for them, try to persuade them to do better, get them to repent, and ask God to forgive them if they do.



[Transcriber’s note: This part of the page was damaged in trimming; text in square brackets is from the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.]

“Don’t fly agin,” exclaimed a boy, as he threw his cap violently on to the ground, over a pretty butterfly. “Don’t fly agin, I guess,” said he, as he stooped down to pick up his cap. It was on a play-ground, near a school. Hundreds of butterflies were flying about in all directions, enjoying themselves in the sun. The boys were chasing them, and [tr]ying to kill the poor harmless insects. The boy I speak of, was almost in a passion, and a little girl was standing by looking at him. What had the butterfly done to hurt the boy? Nothing. I was

p. 9; p. 69

pained to see so much cruelty. I fear that boy, if he lives to grow up, will be a wicked man. Poor slaves, when they escape from bondage, are chased just so. Like the butterfly they love freedom, and those who are stronger than they knock them down. “Don’t fly agin,” “don’t fly agin, I guess, or I reckon” say the pursuers. How much better is a man than a butterfly?



O, turn that little foot aside,

Nor crush beneath its tread

The humblest creature of the earth,

That looks to God for bread.

Thou should’st not dare in wanton sport

Such wondrous skill to mar,

To stop the tide of joyous life,

Which God has nourished there.

If He who made the universe,

Stoops down in kindest love,

To make an insect of the earth,

From his high throne above;

O! who should dare that insect’s life

In wantonness destroy,

Or give a pang to any thing,

That he has made for joy?

p. 10; p. 70

My child, begin in little things

To act a gentle part,

For God will turn his love away

From the hard and cruel heart.


a white girl prays


[Transcriber’s note: This part of the page was damaged in trimming; text in square brackets is from the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.]

Sophia was an abolitionist. And she was pious. She loved to pray. Sometimes she would go into her chamber alone, fasten the door, and kneel down to pray for the poor slaves. She knew what Jesus had said—“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, (or room) and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, [sha]ll reward thee openly.” Sophia had faith.—Therefore she believed what the blessed Saviour had said.

p. 11; p. 71


O God! Hear my prayer. I come unto thee in the name of thy dear Son, and ask thee to hear me for his sake. I pray for the poor slave. He is in chains, they whip him, they sell his little babes. Dear Lord, pity the slave. Do pity him. All men were made by Thee. They are made of one blood. O, then, my dear Father in Heaven, let the slaves go free. Do not let wicked men whip them so. Do not let them sell their children. But make men willing to be kind to the poor slaves, to teach them to read the Bible, and to do to them as they would wish to be done unto. O Lord, I pray, too, for the souls of the slaves. Jesus Christ has died for the whole world. Many of the slaves do not love Thee. If they do not repent they will be lost. O then, have pity on their souls. Let them not be slaves to sin and Satan. Deliver them, O God. Bring the body and the soul into liberty. May they all be freemen in Christ Jesus. May all the little children be lambs of Jesus’ flock. Take them into thy arms, dear Saviour. Hear my prayer, O Lord; hear me, I pray thee, and answer my petitions, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.



As a lady was passing along the street, she saw a crowd of small boys vexing a poor colored lad who came

p. 12; p. 72

along in their path. She took one of them by the hand, and led him away, telling him this pretty story. Little Jack was a Sabbath-school scholar, and his teacher said he got his lessons well, was glad to be taught, and was one of the best behaved scholars she ever had. The superintendent thought Jack would grow up to be a wise man, and he hoped he would be a good man also. But it was not long before he would not mind, and he grew surly and lazy. People told the teacher she must not wonder at it, for Jack had “the real nigger temper; niggers would be ugly, for it was their nature.” The teacher did not listen to such foolish talk. She knew that every child has a wicked heart, and would be lost if they did not repent, and obey God. So she talked kindly to to Jack, and prayed for him.

“My dear boy,” said she, “I have always loved you, and you used to love me. It grieves me to see you do not behave so well as you used to. Tell me,

p. 13; p. 73

my child, what I can do to make you act well again.”

Poor Jack could hold out no longer. He wept as if his little heart would break. “I do love you, ma’am; I do love you,” said he, trying to stifle his sobs; “but—but—” “But what, my dear?” “But I’m a nigger! I’m nothing but a nigger!” “What do you mean, my child?”—“Why, when I go along the street, the white boys hoot at me, and hallow, nigger! nigger! The gentlemen, too, say, ‘Turn out you blackey’—and I always shall be a blackey, if I live till I am forty years old. I can never be any thing else, and I can’t help acting bad. None of the white folks love me but you, and it is all because I’m a nigger; I’ve tried to be good as long as I can, and it’s no use to try any longer.”

His kind teacher told him that God would be his friend, if he was a good boy. And after talking a long time with him, Jack said he would be a good boy, and would try to learn, because it would please God and please his teacher.

p. 14; p. 74

God is the maker of all the people that live on the earth. If we despise any of them because they do not look as we do, then we make God angry with us. Few of all the nations are white. God loves the colored ones as well as the white ones. He says so in the Bible. We must do so too.



Mr. Adam Hodgson, of England, tells of a conversation he had with a slave. “As the little fellow,” he says, “walked by the side of my horse, I asked him if there was any church that the slaves attended on Sunday. He said no, there was none near enough, and he had never seen one. I asked him if he knew where people went to when they died, and was much affected by the simple, earnest look with which he pointed to the sky and said, ‘to Fader dere.’ ”

Yes, dear boy, if you are a child of God you will not always be a slave. Death will strike off your fetters, and

p. 15; p. 75

your soul will be free. And in the day of resurrection, when your soul and body will be re-united, there will be no driver to whip or chain you. Angels will carry you “to Fader dere.” Then you will serve Him for ever and ever. There, said holy Job, the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.


[Transcriber’s note: This page is missing text in my copy; text in square brackets is from the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.]


It was said by Professor Write, I think, that all children are abolitionists. White children play with [colored] children, they [walk together, eat together,] and kiss [each other, and never think that the color of the skin makes one better than the other. I can tell a story in proof of this. A gentleman was walking along with his little son, who is about three years old, and had been reading the Slave’s Friend. I do not know his name. He saw a colored boy coming, who was about six years old. “Papa,” said he, “is not he my brother?” “No,]

p. 16; p. 76

[Transcriber’s note: This page is missing text in my copy; text in square brackets is from the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals.]

my son, he is a colored boy“ “Papa,” exclaimed the dear child, “may not I kiss him?” Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Another story to prove that children are abolitionists. A person offered the newspaper, called “Human Rights,” to a gentleman on board a steamboat. He would not take it. One of the Slave’s [Friends was offered to] his little son, and [he took it very gladly. The] next day [his father met the person who] gave it [to him, and said, “Have you got another of those little books that you gave my boy? He told me that he dreamed last night, that you had given him another of those pretty books.“ Now, let every child try to get his parents to read this book. They never will be abolitionists, unless they are converted heart first.]

[cover p. 3; inside back cover]


Mr. Harris is a colored man, who lives in the State of New York. He is now twenty-five years of age, and has purchased himself of his master, (who lives in a slave State,) for $800! He has also redeemed the following children, and brought them into a free State.

A., a little girl, aged 3 years, for $200.

B., a little boy, aged 6 years, for $250.

C., a girl, aged 10 years, for $250.

Mr. Harris worked hard, and earned all this money. He was very glad to give it away to get his liberty, and to give freedom to these dear children. How happy he must feel!



Women, in the West Indies, had to labor with their infants on their backs, or dragged in trays behind them through the field. And this in the hot sun. Mothers, with nursing babies, had to work nine hours, without stopping, in the field! When they ate their dinner, they sat down on the hill where they were hoeing. Poor, feeble women are cruelly treated everywhere, when they are slaves. And the poor infants—it is [a] wonder they do not all die. Be thankful, dear child, that you are not a slave, that your dear mother does not have to work in the fields with a baby on her back. Pity the poor slaves. Do all you can for them. Do not be ashamed of being the slave’s friend. God is not ashamed of it.

[cover p. 4; back cover]


Three Little Abolitionist, … 1

Anti-slavery Catechism, … 4

Faith, … 5

The Weasel and Chicken, … 7

The Butterfly, … 8

To a little Child, … 9

The praying Child, … 10

Story of poor Jack, … 11

“Our Father,” … 14

Children all Abolitionists, … 15


a bell

When I was a little boy, my father let me go up into the steeple of a meeting-house. There I saw a great bell. On it were cut several letters. I read them, and shall never forget them.



Whenever you hear a bell toll for a funeral, think of these words. That bell may toll for you!—Are you prepared to die?

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