SOULS & SOLIDARITY: IMMEDIATE EMANCIPATION
The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, held April 1835 was the most influential abolitionist societies in the mid-western section of the United States. The numerous delegates who founded the Society eventually gained national recognition for their activities. Rankin, a founding of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society also served on the Committee for Arrangements at the initial convention. Besides Rankin, other members of the elite committee included James G. Birney and Theodore Weld. The Committee recommended eleven various sub-committees which included to establish a constitution, resolutions, and platforms. Upon return from this Convention, Rankin proposed the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society that emulated the State Anti-Slavery Society.
In November 1835, the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society held it first meeting. The members incorporated a constitution that expressed their ideas of anti-slavery. While their constitution mirrored the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society’s, the Ripley constitution opened the door of their membership to anyone, regardless of race, class, or gender. They did specifically exclude slaveholders from membership. Therefore, when you read the membership roster listed below, notice that there is a close ratio of men to women, as well as no reference to race.
Constitution of the Ripley A.S.S.
Art. 1st: This society shall be called the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society. Auxiliary to the Ohio State Anti-SlaverySociety.
Art. 2: The object of this Society is the entire abolition of Slavery in the United States. While it is admitted that each State in which slavery exists has by the Constitution of the United States the exclusive right to legislate in regard to its abolition with in [crossed out word "their"] its own bounberies [boundaries]; this Society shall endeavour [endeavor] to convince their fellow citicens [citizens] that slave holding is a heinous sin in the sight of God, and that the duty, safety and best interests of all concerned require its immediate abandonment without expatriation. The Society will also use suitable exertion in a constitutional way to influence Congress to abolish Slavery in those portions of our Country which [page 2] are under its immediate control especially in the District of Columbia& likewise to prevent its extention [extension] to any State that may be hereafter admitted into the Union.
Art. 3: This Society Shall aim at the elivation [elevation] of the [crossed out word "coloured"] character and codition [condition] of the people of colour, by encouraging [crossed out words "schools among them] their intellectual, morel [moral], & religious improvement and by removing publick predudice [prejudice]; that thus they may according to there intellectual and [moral] worth Share an equality with the whites in civil and religious privilidges [privileges] but this Society will never in any way countenance [countenance] the oppressed in vindicating their rights by resorting to physical [physical] force.
Art. 4th: Any person who consents to the principles of this Constitution and is not a Slave holder may be a member and shall [page3] be entitled to a vote at the meetings.
Art 5th: The officers of the Society Shall be elected annually & shall consist of a President, Vice President Secretary and Treasurer who shall constitute a board of Managers.
Art 6th: The board of Managers shall make arrangements [arrangements] for all meetings of the Society, adopt the more energetick [energetic] means in their power to advance the objects of the Society & make an anuel [annual] report of their doings.
Art 7th: The annual meting of the Society shall be on the twenty fifth day of December when the anuel [annual] report shall be read appropriate addresses delivered the officers for the ensuing year chosen and such other buisnes [business]transacted as they shall deem necessary.
The demographic composition of the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society contains revealing information regarding the men and women who formed the organization. The 1850 United States Census was the first year that included the category of ‘Value of Real Estate Owned’. Using the data from this census, there were three hundred-fifteen (315) individuals who listed owning real estate. Of the three hundred-fifteen (315) people owning property, only forty four (44) are listed as members of the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society. This equates to only fourteen percent (14%) of the wealthiest men and women in Ripley who were members while the remaining membership would have consisted of middle to lower economic classes. Therefore, class stratification does become a factor in the overall makeup of the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society.
For more information on the correlation between capitalism, class stratification and abolition, See: Thomas Bender, ed., The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
Borderlander of Light
By: Donna B. Jacobson, University of Connecticut
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